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Found 38 results

  1. Homebrew Leaderboard Competition 2020 - Game 7: NES Virus Cleaner Play Period: Friday, July 3, 2020 - Sunday, July 19, 2020 Use physical cart or download the rom here. Up next is NES Virus Cleaner by Slydog Studios. The wild adventure of your NES cleaning friend Clik. Wait, you didn’t know that cleaning cart you had was for more than just brute forcing into the pin connector? Well it is. Behind the scenes Clik was cleaning your console of viruses lurking within the chips. Now you get to control Clik yourself and rid those viruses for good. Guide the hero, Clik, in each level to clean up the spawning viruses,but be careful. You are racing against the clock avoiding electric bolts, electric sparks, disappearing blocks, and a homing missile system. Clean all the viruses on the level before time runs out and you advance to the next level all in hopes to make it to the end and face the main virus, Virii. If you run out of time it is gameover. Scores are revealed at game over or game completion. The round will begin July 3rd, hold off until the start because no score posted before then will be accepted. Please limit your posts to including your scores so as not to clutter the thread. How to submit your score: 1. Scores shall be submitted by posting a picture to that month’s game thread. Screenshots of a computer screen (print screen) are not acceptable. 2. The picture must include the entire screen and have your VGS user name within the picture on a piece of paper. Username can not be added digitally to the picture. 3. Type out your score in bold on your thread post. 4. Scores must be submitted within the posted time frame. 5. Do not submit scores from previous runs. 6. Use one post for your score. You can submit as many as you like by editing your original post. You can bump the thread to announce your new score. Rules: 1. NTSC only, no PAL. This will create a level playing field and not create differences based on timing. 2. OEM, FPGA, and clone consoles are OKAY. 3. Emulators are OKAY. Play game at 100% speed. 4. No save states allowed. 5. Flashcarts (i.e. Everdrive / Power Pak) are OKAY. 6. No turbo or slow motion controllers are allowed. 7. No game genie codes. 8. Do not use glitches in the game to boost your score.
  2. VGS Homebrew on the Horizon: Whereas the purpose of the VGS Homebrew Almanac is to keep an up-to-date list of cartridge homebrew releases that are currently available or whose production runs have ended, this list will provide an up-to-date list of cartridge homebrew releases within sight to one degree or another. Part I of this list will include live pre-orders, either through the developer’s website or a crowdfunding page such as Kickstarter or Indiegogo. Part II of this list will only include homebrew games that previously had pre-orders open, but which are now closed (e.g. a crowdfunding campaign has ended and no further pre-orders are being taken). This section will serve as a sort of limbo for games that will be available soon and will therefore soon be moved to the Homebrew Almanac. Completed roms for games where the developer is planning or considering a physical cart run will also be found here. Part III of this list will be devoted to homebrew projects that developers have announced are in the works, but which are not yet available for pre-order, though demos may have been released to whet our appetites. The line between which projects have been abandoned and which retain a glimmer of hope is a fuzzy one, so developers please pm me if you wish to be added/removed. Part IV is dedicated to the memory of homebrew projects which, as far as I can tell, have been abandoned. This may be because the developer has gone dormant on this project or in general, or a developer had a page for this game that has since vanished. May they one day be resurrected. Links will be to a game’s individual page, development blog, VGS thread, Twitter account, or some combination thereof to provide the community with the best possible access to news. But if developers would like me to link elsewhere, please tell me. *The usual disclaimer, I am sure that there are mistakes and games that slipped my attention in what follows. Feel free to point them out or inform us all of a change in a game's status. If you are the creator of a game and you would like to have your work included at a set date/time, please feel free to send me a pm. Part I: Homebrew Available for Pre-Order NES/Famicom Available for Pre-Order: -Dungeons & Doomknights $48 CIB Link -Eyra - The Crow Maiden Link -Full Quiet $60 CIB Link -Jim Power $50 CIB Link -KUBO 3 $40 CIB Link -Orange Island £100 CIB Link -Project Blue $60 CIB Link , FC KS Link & E-mail pragmaticfanatic@gmail.com -Rollie $60 CIB Link -Soko Banana $60 CIB Link -Trophy $60 CIB Link SNES Available for Pre-Order: -Eyra - The Crow Maiden Link Game Boy Available for Pre-Order: -Dragonborne £40 CIB Link -Where is my body? €35 CIB Link Sega Master System Available for Pre-Order: -Heroes Against Demons €45 CIB Link Genesis/Mega Drive Available for Pre-Order: -Arkagis Revolution Link -Curse of Illmore Bay $60 CIB Link -Debtor $60 CIB Link -Demons of Asteborg €60 CIB Link -Eyra - The Crow Maiden Link -Foxy Land $60 CIB Link -Xump 2 €24.37 CIB Link & Link Part II: Pre-Orders Closed or Completed But Not Yet Released on Cart NES/Famicom Pre-Order Closed or Will be Available Soon: -Dead Tomb Link -Flea Link -Gamer Quest (fka Nintendo Quest) Link -Goofy Foot: Power Chiptunes (chiptune) -Jay & Silent Bob: Mall Brawl Link -Mystic Searches Link -Nova the Squirrel Link -Ploid Link -Saturn Smash Link -Uchūsen Link -What Remains Link SNES Pre-Order Closed or Will be Available Soon: Game Boy Pre-Order Closed or Will be Available Soon: -Quest Arrest Link Genesis/Mega Drive Pre-Order Closed or Will be Available Soon: -Phantom Gear $50 CIB Link Part III: Homebrew In-Development NES/Famicom In-Development: -Adventures in Cavyverse Link -Alien Isolation Link -The Banketh Link -Bat Lizard Bonanza -Blazing Rangers (FC) Link -Cityzen Link -Copper Jacket Link -Cotton & Candy Link -Courier -Depths Link & Link -Dimension Shift Link & Link -Diversion Link -Doodle World Link -Family Vacation -Fie (chiptune by Zi) Link -Force Bot Link -From Below Link -Gatsby -The Gift of Discernment (aka Isometric Horror Game) Link & Link -Gulpy Link -Halcyon Link & Link -Haratyler (FC) Link -Isolation Link -Jester Link -Janus Link -Level Zero (chiptune by Zi) Link -Light from Within Link -Malasombra Link -The Meating Link -Monkey Crab Panic Link -Nessy!! The NES Robot Link -Nix: The Paradox Relic Link -"Project Borscht" (a Frankengraphics tale) Link -The Quiet Album (chiptune by Zi) -Retro Artists of the Future, Vol 1. (chiptune compilation) -Sam’s Journey Link -Saturday Man Link -Space Raft Link & Link -Space Soviets Link -Super Tilt Bros. Link -Touhou Rououmu (FC) Link -The Tower of Turmoil Link -Transamnia Link -Unicorn -(untitled RPG) (in association with Amaweks) Link SNES In-Development: -Danmaku Link -Nova the Squirrel 2 Link Game Boy In-Development: -4000AD (chiptune by PROTODOME) Link -Coria and the Sunken City Link -Frog Knight Link -Last Crown Warriors Link -Pet the Dog Link -(untitled Tronimal chiptune) Link Sega Master System In-Development: -DARC Link -Dead Gunner Link -Lain vs. the Castle of Evil Link -Voyage – A Sorceress’ Vacation Link Genesis/Mega Drive In-Development: -Affinity:Sorrow Link -The Alexandra Project Link & Link -Alice Sisters Link -Apeel’s Court Link & Link -Arapuca Link -Aratu Brothers + Shaolin Carcará Link -ASAP PLZ Link -Bio Evil Link -Bite the Bullet: First Course Link -Crypt of Dracula Link -Ellenica: Dusk of the Gods Link -Insane Pain Link -Irena Genesis Metal Fury Link -Jessie Jaeger in Cleopatra's Curse Link -Journey to Oblivion Link -Lethal Wedding Link -Mega Darkula Link -Moonrider Link -Perlin & Pinpin Link -Shrine Maiden Shizuka Link -Space Madness Link -Verge World: Icarus Rising Link -The Viking and the Ninja Link & Link -ZPF Link Part IV: Homebrew Purgatorio NES/Famicom In-Development: -Almost Hero 2 Link -Balls and Booty Link -Bleu Bleu Link -Deal or No Deal -Epicade -High Noon Knockout -In Cod We Trust -Isshokuta Link -Knil Link -NOFX Cover Cart Link -Project P Link -Rival Swarms -Space Beats -Super Smash Bros. NES Link -The Sword of Ianna Link -The Wizard: Story Unknown Link -You Only Live Thrice -(untitled game by iamerror) Link -(untitled game by Punch) Link SNES In-Development: -Dorven Digger Link Game Boy In-Development: -Mona and the Witch’s Hat Link Sega Master System In-Development: -Lost Raider Link Genesis/Mega Drive In-Development: -Chant Link -The Chaos Citadel Link -Field of Nightmares -Kung Fu UFO Link -Magot Link -The Shifting Catacombs Link -Wanted Link -We Got Dungeons Link Part V: Malebolge -Paprium (Genesis) $60 CIB (if you’ve heard of this game, then you know why it’s here) Link & if you’re especially brave This Link
  3. I posted about this on NintendoAge and Nesdev, but I've been working on a SNES platformer game that acts as a sequel to my NES one. It's gonna do a bunch of stuff I wanted to do on the original game but couldn't due to NES limitations, and it's also just going to be more ambitious and better in general, with a heavy (optional?) focus on story. It's open source like the previous game (and like all of my games really), and I'm hoping that that helps convince other people that the SNES isn't very scary after all, and to give it a try. I've certainly had a lot of fun programming it. I've attached a recent build: nova-the-squirrel-2.sfc
  4. Homebrew Leader Board Competition 2020 - Game 6: Shmup Speed Play Period: Friday, June 5, 2020 - Sunday, June 21, 2020 Download the rom here at the bottom of the page. All hail Daddy @Gloves!! In addition to providing this digital roof over our heads, Gloves participates in the Extra Life 24-Hour gaming marathon to raise money for charity, a worthy endeavor he continues every year. Because he's such a straight shooter, for his 2018 outing, Gloves commissioned a unique homebrew: Shmup Speed. This game/tool represents a development dream team: with coding by KHAN Games; design, sprites, and planning by Gloves himself; packaging, manuals, and labels by Sole Goose Productions; carts by SNESNESCUBE64; and music by Thomas Cipollone. Need help improving your enemy-blasting skills? Shmup Speed measures your "presses per second" for a brief period as you mash the hell out of the A & B buttons on your NES controller, or whatever you have handy. Not much of a shooter? That's ok, Shmup Speed is a tool to focus on your finger blasting, so there aren't any enemies to shoot up. Who's got the fastest fingers on VGS? We shall soon see... Gloves gave 5 CIBs of Shmup Speed to the development team and offered 5 more in an auction on NA. Sadly those are the only legitimate physical copies in existence. But fear not, the Shmup Speed rom is available here. How to submit your score: 1. Scores shall be submitted by posting a picture to that month’s game thread. Screenshots of a computer screen (print screen) are not acceptable. 2. The picture must include the entire screen and have your VGS user name within the picture on a piece of paper. Username can not be added digitally to the picture. 3. Type out your score in bold on your thread post. 4. Scores must be submitted within the posted time frame. 5. Do not submit scores from previous runs. 6. Use one post for your score. You can submit as many as you like by editing your original post. You can bump the thread to announce your new score. Rules: 1. NTSC only, no PAL. This will create a level playing field and not create differences based on timing. 2. OEM, FPGA, and clone consoles are OKAY. 3. Emulators are OKAY. Play game at 100% speed. 4. No save states allowed. 5. Flashcarts (i.e. Everdrive / Power Pak) are OKAY. 6. No turbo or slow motion controllers are allowed. 7. No game genie codes. 8. Do not use glitches in the game to boost your score.
  5. VGS Homebrew Almanac formerly known as The Currently Available Homebrew Thread: The purpose of this thread is to keep an up-to-date list of cartridge homebrew releases that are currently in production for the NES, SNES, Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, Sega Master System, and Genesis. This list is for those who need their homebrew right now (well, now plus shipping time and something for the tax man). For those looking for NES homebrew roms, NESworld is the place to go. For those curious what is included in each entry of the Action 53 series, NESdev has a wiki for you. Part I of this list will only include currently available physical releases (available that is, from the original producer (I can't watch every eBay auction). Hacks, repros, and re-releases will not be included (but this might be a good place to also flag pirated work so we can call out theft where it happens). This list will include games as well as chiptune carts. Variants can be included where there is a substantive difference in gameplay; limited editions, variants of the physical cart itself, or minor in-game differences will not be distinguished. Part II of this list will include defunct homebrew games that are no longer available from their original source but can be found on the secondary market. This section is intended to serve as a reference for collectors new and old who wish to enrich their collections as well as their lives with what was once brewed but alas is brewed no more (at least until Ferris re-posts his fairly exhaustive Aftermarket Price Guide here or on a dedicate site). For simplicity’s sake, links will be to a game’s individual page/thread (or as close as possible). *Please note, I am sure that there are mistakes and games that slipped my attention in what follows. Feel free to point them out or inform us all of a change in a game's status. If you are the creator of a game and you would like to have your work included at a set date/time, please feel free to send me a pm. Part I: The Currently Available Homebrew List Currently Available NES/Famicom Releases: -0-to-X NA Edition $75 CIB Link -2 in 1 Geminim/Siamond $27 C Link -8Bit Rhythm Land $45 CIB Link -Action 53, Volume 2: Double Action 53 $48 CIB Link -Action 53 Volume 3: Revenge of the Twins $50 CIB Link -Alfonzo's Arctic Adventure $40 CIB Link -Almost Hero $50 CIB Link -AO $35 CIB Link -Armed for Battle $52 CIB Link -Assimilate $35 C Link -Basse Def Adventures €31 CIB Link -Battle Kid Dangerous Trap $20 CIB Link -Battle Kid: Fortress of Peril $36 C Link -Battle Kid 2: Mountain of Torment $49 CIB Link -Beat ‘Em $30 C Link -Beerslinger $35 CIB Link -Billionaire Banshee $50 CIB Link -Black Box Challenge $40 C Link -Bovinium Quest $30 CIB Link -Brilliant Pebbles $35 C Link -Candelabra: Estoscerro $60 CIB Link -Chunkout 2 $25 C Link -City Trouble $35 CIB Link -Creepy Brawlers $50 CIB Link -Draiocht $40 CIB Link -Dushlan $40 CIB Link -Eskimo Bob $30 C Link -Exit Loop $30 CIB Link -Expedition $75 CIB + Cards Link -Family Picross $40 CIB Link -Galactic Ascension $45 CIB Link -Get'em Gary! $40 CIB Link -Gotta Protectors: Amazon’s Running Diet $40 C Link -Haradius Zero ¥10,000 CIB Link -Haunted: Halloween '85 $60 CIB Link (NES) & $45 C Link (FC) -Haunted: Halloween '86 $60 CIB Link (NES) & $45 C Link (FC) -HBWC 2012 $45 C Link -The Incident: Remastered $60 CIB Link -Justice Duel $45 CIB Link -Kirakira Star Night DX $53 CIB Link -KUBO 3 $30 C PM dale_coop -Little Medusa $60 CIB Link -Lizard $55 CIB Link -Log Jammers $50 CIB Link -Lucky Penguin $50 CIB Link -Machine Cave $40 CIB Link -Meteor Swarm $35 C Link -Micro Mages €45 CIB Link -Mojonian Tales $48 CIB Link -More Glider $35 C Link -Multidude $40 CIB Link -Mystic Origins $50 CIB Link -Mystic Pillars $36 C Link -Nebs 'n Debs $48 CIB Link -Neo Heiankyo Alien (FC) $45 CIB Link -NES Virus Cleaner $35 CIB Link -Nighttime Bastards $47 CIB Link -Ninja I & II $49 CIB Link -Porun-chan no Onigiri Daisuki ¥7,963 CIB Link -Power Coloring $35 C Link -Quadralords $35 C Link -Quest Forge - By Order of Kings $40 Link -Rainbow Brite: Journey to the Rainbow Land €39,90 CIB Link -Snakky $20 CIB Link -Solaris $35 C Link -Spook-o'-tron $48 CIB Link -Star Versus $40 C Link -Study Hall $33 C Link -Super NeSnake 2 $34 C Link -Super Painter $40 CIB Link -Swords and Runes RE $45 CIB Link -Tower Defense 1990 $55 CIB Link -Troll Burner $20 C Link -Twelve Seconds $35 C Link -Twin Dragons €45 CIB Link -UXO RE $35 CIB PM Neodolphino -Wampus C PM johnvanderhoe & Link -Wart Worm Wingding C PM johnvanderhoe & Link Currently Available NES/Famicom Music Carts: -8Bit Music Power Final $33 CIB Link -A Hole New World Soundtrack (chiptune) $45 CIB Link (NES) & €40 CIB Link (FC) -bitpuritans: 2A03 Puritans RE $50 C Link -Creeping it Real $40 CIB Link -Famicompo Pico 2014 $50 C Link -Famimimidi $200 C Link -Mega Ran: RNDM $50 CIB Link -Moonfall $40 C Link -Sergio Elisondo: A Winner Is You $35 C Link -Zi: Silicon Statue $35 C Link -Zi: Thornbury $35 C Link -Zi: [Welcome to] Eville $35 C Link Currently Available SNES/Super Famicom Releases: -Fork Parker's Crunch Out $50 CIB Link -Little Medusa $60 CIB Link -Sydney Hunter & the Caverns of Death $40 CIB Link -Yo Yo Shuriken $50 CIB Link Currently Available SNES/Super Famicom Music Carts: -The Cult of Remute €36 C Link Currently Available Game Boy Releases: -Airaki $15 C Link -Dangan $25 C Link -Death Planet $15 C Link -DMG Deals Damage $15 C Link -Escape 2042 $30 CIB Link -Guns & Riders $15 C Link -Infinitron $20 CIB Link -Into the Blue $25 C Link -Leo Legend €25 C Link -Lunar Journey €25 C Link -Micro Doctor €25 C Link -Retroid $20 CIB Link -Sheep it Up! $15 C Link -Submarine 9 €25 C Link -Tobu Tobu Girl Deluxe €49 CIB Link -Tower of Hanoi $15 C Link Currently Available Game Boy Music Carts: -ASM 2016 Christmas Card $25 C Link -Heebie-GBs 2014 $40 C Link -Heebie-GBs 2019 $40 C Link Currently Available GBA Releases: -HomeBrew GamePack $40 C (?) Link -Motocross Challenge $40 C (?) Link -Powder $35 CIB Link -XE GamePack $50 C (?) Link Currently Available Sega Master System Releases: Currently Available Genesis/Mega Drive Releases: -16Bit Rhythm Land $60 CIB Link -Arkagis Revolution $50 CIB Link -Balaio de Jogos (4-in-1) 99.90 R$ CB Link -Cannon Fire Chaos $50 CIB Link -Coffee Crisis $50 CIB Link -Devwill Too $50 CIB Link -Escape 2042 $40 CIB Link -Gluf $50 CIB Link -Handy Harvy $35 CIB Link -Kromasphere YAGAC MD $35 CIB Link -L'Abbaye des Morts $45 CIB Link -Little Medusa $55 CIB Link -Mega Casanova $29 CIB Link -Mega Marble World $35 CIB Link -Mega Quadro Pong $44.75 CIB Link -MegaXmas ’89 $30 C Link -Metal Blast 2277 $32 CIB Link -Misplaced $50 CIB Link -Old Towers $50 CIB Link -Racer $29 CIB Link -Romeow & Julicat $50 CIB Link -Smiley & Smiley $29 CIB Link -Tanzer $50 CIB Link -Tanglewood $50 CIB Link -Xeno Crisis £55 CIB Link -Yazzie $50 CIB Link Currently Available Genesis/Mega Drive Music Carts: -genMDM $80 C Link -Remute: Technoptimistic €33 Link Currently Available Game Gear Releases: -Hamburgers En Route to Switzerland $39 C Link Currently Available TurboGrafx 16 Releases (HuCARD only): -Atlantean $68 CIB Link Part II: Defunct Homebrew or Sorry But Your Homebrew is in Another Castle No Longer Available NES/Famicom Releases: -1007 Bolts/Hammers/Gifts -8-bit XMAS 2008 -8-bit XMAS 2009 -8-bit XMAS 2010 -8-bit XMAS 2011 -8-bit XMAS 2012 -8-bit XMAS 2013 -8-bit XMAS 2014 -8-bit XMAS 2015 -8-bit XMAS 2016 -8-bit XMAS 2017 -8-bit XMAS 2018 -8-bit XMAS 2019 -Action 53, Volume 1: Function 16 Volume One "Streemerz Bundle" -Alter Ego -Astro Ninja Man (FC) -Basic Championship Wrestling -Blade Buster -Blow ‘Em Out -Bomb Sweeper -Box Boy -Bust A Nut: Flight of the Harbinger -Candelabra: Estoscerro -Commie Killer -Commie Killer featuring Jeffrey Wittenhagen -Console Killer -Convention Quest -Cornball Cocksuckers -Cowlitz Gamers Adventure -Cowlitz Gamers Second Adventure -Cross-Strait Independence -CTWC 2018: The Archives -D+Pad Hero -D+Pad Hero 2 -Dragon Boat (FC) -Dragon Feet -Dragon Leap -E.T. -Enigmacore -Final Fantasy VII -Flappy Bird -Frankengraphics Concept Cart -Freecell LE -Galf -Garage Cart -Gemventure -Germ Squashers -Glider -The Grind -Gruniożerca 2 -Gruniożerca 3 -Halloween Scare Cart 2015 -Halloween Scare Cart 2016 -Halloween Scare Cart 2017 -Halloween Scare Cart 2018 -Hangman -Ilevan (FC) -The Incident -Jet Paco -Juhannusolumppialaiset 2017 -Juhannussauna 2016 -Kevin Power in Concert Carnage -Kevin Power in Too Many Games -KHAN Games 4-in-1 Retro Gamepak -Kira Kira Star Night DX -K.Y.F.F. -LAN Master -Larry and the Long Look for a Luscious Lover -Larry and the Long Look for a Luscious Lover: Engagement Edition -Lawn Mower -Legends of Owlia -Mad Wizard -Midwest Gaming Classic 2011 -Miles Con 2016 -Mr. Splash -NA Halloween 2009 -NAGE Hunt -Neotoxin -NEScape -Ninja Slapper -Nomolos: Storming the Catsle -NyanCat -Peace Love Trippy Club (FC) -Perfect Pair -Perkele -Poronkusema -Random Insult Generator -RC 2 Rally (FC) Link -Rekt -Retro Homebrew Championships 2015 -RetroVision -Rick Roll'd -Rise of Amondus -Rock, Paper, Scissors -RSM Cart 2011 -RSM Cart 2012 -Scramble -SGT Helmet -Sir Abadol -Sitten Kitten -Slappin' Bitches -Sly Dog Studios 3-in-1 2P Pak -Sneak ‘n Peek -Space Foxes -Star Keeper -Sudoku 2007 -Super Bat Puncher Demo -Super Russian Roulette -Super Uwol -T*Gun -Tailgate Party -Tic Tac XO -Tortoises -Turtle Rescue: Unhatched DX -Turtle Rescue: Unwrapped -Ultimate Frogger Champion -Vegetablets Go (NES & FC) -VGBS Gaming Podcast Season 1 -Zooming Secretary No Longer Available NES/Famicom Music Carts: -_node: d3ad_form4t -8Bit Music Power -Alex Mauer: Color Caves -Alex Mauer: Vegavox -Alex Mauer: Vegavox II -Alwa's Awakening Soundtrack -Anamanaguchi: Dawn Metropolis -Anamanaguchi: Endless Fantasy -Anamanaguchi: Power Supply -animal style: Teletime -BEATBOX -Chip Maestro (for making music!) -Holly Jolly NES Mix -Journey -King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard: Polygondwanaland -King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard: Polygondwanaland 2nd Release -Kreese: PAL Project -Midlines -MOON8 -NESK-1 -NTRQ -Puzzle Boys: Duck Tails -RTC: Years Behind -Super Synth Drums Cart -Zao: Reformat/Reboot -Zi: Four No Longer Available SNES/Super Famicom Releases: -16-bit XMAS 2011 -16-bit XMAS 2012 -Frog Feast -Justice Beaver -Kaizou Choujin Shubibinman Zero -Nightmare Busters No Longer Available Game Boy Releases: -Chunkout -Super Connard -The Warp Coin Catastrophe No Longer Available Game Boy Music Carts: -The Mist Toggles: Boneless -Nonfinite: Plus/Minus -Tronimal: Hello_World! No Longer Available GBA Releases: No Longer Available GBA Releases: -Doctor Popular: Destroy All Presets No Longer Available Sega Master System Releases: -Sydney Hunter & The Sacred Tribe No Longer Available Genesis/Mega Drive Releases: -16Bit Rhythm Land -30 Years of Nintendon't -ASCII Wars -Bomb on Basic City -Code Eliminator -Double Symbol -FX Unit Yuki -Game Panic II -Germ Squashers -Griel’s Quest -Hangman SG -Humiliation Nation -Invasion -Megagames Almanac -Mega Cheril Perils -Miniplanets -Papi Commando -Pier Solar and the Great Architects -Sacred Line -Star J -Suprakillminds -T*Gun II -Uwol Quest for Money -War in the Machine -Zooming Secretary No Longer Available Genesis/Mega Drive Music Carts: -Eternalist: A Telefuture Compilation -Freezedream: Today -Hyperdub: Konsolidation (bundled with Analogue Mega Sg) -Tanglewood Soundtrack -TH4 D34D: Future 2612 -Ym2017
  6. I keep meaning to make more kaizo levels, but haven't. Here is a single kaizo level. Give it a play; although, it's probably best to not play it and instead maybe give it to an enemy. It's been awhile since I checked this out, so not sure what will happen if you beat the level, it may just take you back to the start screen, so please don't be disappointed it is still quite an accomplishment to have beaten it! If you have any ideas on how to make this level more difficult or more unfair--post a reply! nebs_n_debs_kaizo.nes
  7. I am surprised to see a copy of this go for that much. From what I recall, it had a custom mapper so it couldn't be dumped. Or the ROM isn't out there online to play. This game is definitely one of the better homebrew games for the NES developed. I think about 100 copies were made by 87Arts. The early copies were Limited Edition and you could opt for custom text. They also had a unique number coded on the title screen. https://www.ebay.com/itm/Star-keeper-nes-homebrew-game-nintendo-CIB-Complete-rare-tested-/254327462715?hash=item3b37191b3b%3Ag%3AL1EAAOSwC4FdUAdr&nma=true&si=ig6XI4XlG4Lr6Jb3x%2Fzi3vRSLOc%3D&orig_cvip=true&nordt=true&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2557
  8. 2020 Sale Thread -E-mail jasonrippard@yahoo.com for questions -Buyer pays shipping (unless otherwise stated) -Ships to North America Only -Prices made based on condition -Parting out items considered but not guaranteed. -PM for questions/details/bundling -If there is a bold line through it... it is sold. -All NES games have dust covers. If it has a box, it has a box protector. -OVER 150 TRANSACTIONS ON NintendoAge (BUY WITH CONFIDENCE) Title C I B 720 1 1 0 $15 10-Yard Fight 1 0 0 $5 3-D Battles of World Runner (Black Box) 1 0 0 $15 8 Eyes 1 0 1 $30 Adventure Island 1 1 1 $40 Adventures of Dino Riki 1 1 1 $30 After Burner 1 1 1 $25 Air Fortress 1 1 0 $15 Airwolf 1 1 1 $20 Alien 3 1 0 1 $45 Alpha Mission 1 1 1 $45 American Gladiators 1 0 0 $10 Arch Rivals - A BASKETBRAWL! 1 1 1 $35 Archon 1 0 1 $25 Athletic World (regular version) 1 1 1 $30 Bandai Golf: Challenge Pebble Beach 1 1 1 $15 Barbie 1 1 0 $12 Barker Bill's Trick Shooting 1 1 1 $25 Base Wars - Cyber Stadium Series 1 1 0 $10 Baseball 1 1 1 $20 Baseball Stars 1 0 0 $7 Baseball Stars 2 1 0 1 $45 Bases Loaded 1 1 1 $10 Bases Loaded 2: Second Season 1 1 0 $7 Bases Loaded 3, Ryne Sandberg Plays 1 1 1 $20 Batman (plastic hang tab sticker) 1 1 1 $35 Batman Returns 1 1 0 $35 Battle Chess 1 0 1 $15 Bible Adventures (blue cart) 1 0 0 $18 Bible Adventures (blue cart) 1 0 0 $18 Bill & Ted's Excellent ^Video Game Adventure 1 0 1 $25 Bionic Commando 1 1 0 $20 Black Bass, The 1 1 1 $20 Blades of Steel 1 1 0 $12 Blaster Master 1 1 0 $20 Bo Jackson Baseball 1 1 1 $28 Boulder Dash 1 1 0 $15 Breakthru 1 0 1 $20 Bubble Bobble 1 0 0 $15 Bugs Bunny Birthday Blowout, The 1 0 1 $20 Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle, The 1 1 0 $12 Bump 'n' Jump 1 1 0 $13 Burai Fighter 1 0 1 $25 Caesar's Palace 1 1 1 $20 Casino Kid 1 0 1 $18 Castle of Dragon 1 0 1 $40 Caveman Games 1 1 0 $15 Championship Bowling 1 1 0 $8 Cobra Command 1 0 0 $20 Cobra Triangle 1 0 0 $10 Code Name: Viper 1 0 0 $12 Corvette ZR-1 Challenge 1 1 1 $70 Crystal Mines (blue cart) 1 0 1 $70 Crystalis 1 0 0 $18 Cybernoid, The Fighting Machine 1 1 0 $8 Dance Aerobics 1 0 0 $8 Dash Galaxy in the Alien Asylum 1 0 1 $25 Death Race 1 0 0 $45 Deathbots 1 0 0 $20 Demon Sword 1 0 0 $10 Destination Earthstar 1 0 1 $20 Dick Tracy 1 0 0 $10 Dig Dug II, Trouble in Paradise 1 1 0 $15 Dirty Harry 1 0 0 $15 Donkey Kong Classics 1 0 0 $15 Double Dare 1 0 0 $15 Dr. Chaos 1 1 0 $18 Dragon Power 1 0 1 $25 Dragon Warrior 1 0 0 $10 Duck Hunt 1 1 1 $30 Duck Tales, Disney's 1 1 0 $30 Dungeon Magic - Sword of the Elements 1 1 1 $40 Elevator Action 1 0 0 $10 Excitebike (missing tab) 1 0 1 $30 Fantasy Zone 1 0 1 $35 Faxanadu 1 1 0 $25 Fester's Quest 1 1 0 $15 Final Fantasy 1 0 0 $20 Fire Hawk 1 0 0 $15 Friday the 13th 1 1 0 $20 Galactic Crusader 1 0 0 $60 Galaxy 5000 1 1 1 $120 Gauntlet 1 1 1 $25 Gauntlet 1 1 0 $12 Gauntlet II 1 1 1 $27 Ghosts 'n Goblins 1 0 0 $20 Golf 1 1 1 $35 Golgo 13: Top Secret Episode 1 1 1 $25 Goonies II, The 1 1 0 $25 Gotcha! The Sport! 1 1 0 $10 Gremlins 2 - The New Batch 1 0 0 $22 Guardian Legend, The 1 0 0 $25 Guerrilla War 1 0 0 $10 Gumshoe (unpunched hang tab) 1 1 1 $80 Gun.Smoke 1 0 0 $22 Gyromite (w/ famicom converter) 1 1 0 $25 Gyruss 1 1 0 $12 Heavy Barrel 1 1 1 $60 Hogan's Alley 1 1 1 $50 Hoops 1 1 1 $15 Hudson Hawk 1 0 0 $15 Hunt for Red October, The 1 0 0 $8 Hydlide 1 0 0 $8 Ice Hockey (missing tab) 1 1 1 $18 Ikari Warriors 1 0 0 $12 Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom 1 0 0 $15 Infiltrator 1 0 0 $8 Jeopardy! 1 0 1 $12 Jeopardy! 25th Anniversary Edition 1 0 0 $5 John Elway's Quarterback 1 1 0 $8 Karate Champ 1 1 0 $10 King of Kings (Mary/Joeseph variant black cart) 1 0 0 $15 King of Kings (camel variant black cart) 1 0 0 $15 King's Knight 1 1 1 $50 Kings of the Beach Professional Beach Volleyball 1 0 0 $8 Kirby's Adventure 1 1 0 $38 Kung Fu Heroes 1 0 0 $10 Lunar Pool 1 0 0 $8 Mad Max 1 0 1 $27 Magic of Scheherazade, The 1 0 0 $15 Mario Bros., The Original 1 0 0 $35 Mermaids of Atlantis 1 0 1 $120 Millipede 1 0 0 $10 Milon's Secret Castle 1 1 0 $15 Mission: Impossible 1 1 1 $17 Monopoly 1 0 0 $5 Monster Party 1 0 0 $15 Ms. Pac-Man (Tengen) 1 1 0 $25 Muppet Adventure: Chaos at the Carnival 1 0 0 $12 Open Tournament Golf, NES 1 0 1 $17 ORB 3-D 1 1 1 $20 Othello 1 0 0 $5 P.O.W. - Prisoners of War 1 1 1 $25 Pin-Bot 1 1 0 $8 Pinball 1 1 0 $5 Platoon 1 1 0 $8 Play Action Football, NES 1 1 1 $10 Predator 1 1 1 $50 Punch-Out!! 1 0 0 $12 Punisher, The 1 1 0 $25 Q*Bert 1 1 0 $12 R.B.I. Baseball 1 0 0 $10 Raid 2020 1 1 1 $55 Rainbow Islands 1 1 1 $70 Remote Control 1 1 0 $12 Rescue - The Embassy Mission 1 0 0 $12 Ring King 1 0 0 $7 Road Runner 1 0 0 $10 RoadBlasters 1 0 0 $8 Robodemons 1 0 0 $35 RoboWarrior 1 0 0 $10 Rollergames 1 0 1 $12 Rolling Thunder 1 0 0 $8 Rush'n Attack 1 0 0 $10 Sesame Street: Big Bird's Hide & Speak 1 0 0 $8 Shinobi 1 0 0 $10 Shooting Range 1 1 1 $20 Short Order/Eggsplode 1 0 0 $10 Side Pocket 1 0 0 $8 Silent Assault 1 0 1 $45 Silent Service 1 1 0 $8 Ski or Die 1 0 0 $10 Sky Shark 1 1 0 $10 Slalom 1 0 0 $7 Smash T.V. 1 0 0 $15 Snoopy's Silly Sports Spectacular 1 0 0 $12 Soccer 1 1 0 $8 Solar Jetman - Hunt for the Golden Warpship 1 0 0 $10 Solstice - The Quest for the Staff of Demnos 1 1 1 $20 Spelunker 1 0 0 $10 Spy vs. Spy 1 0 0 $10 Star Soldier 1 0 0 $12 Star Trek 25th Anniversary 1 1 1 $30 Star Voyager 1 0 0 $5 Starship Hector 1 0 0 $15 Stealth ATF 1 0 0 $8 Stinger 1 1 0 $25 Strider 1 1 0 $8 Super Dodge Ball 1 1 1 $55 Super Jeopardy!, Talking 1 1 1 $12 Super Mario Bros/Duck Hunt (w/ custom box) 1 1 1 $25 SMB/Duck Hunt/WCTM (w/ custom box) 1 0 1 $25 Super Pitfall 1 1 0 $15 Super Spike V'Ball 1 0 1 $17 Super Spike V'Ball/WC Soccer (w/custom box) 1 0 1 $20 Super Team Games 1 0 0 $8 Tecmo Bowl 1 0 0 $10 Tecmo World Wrestling 1 1 0 $15 Tetris 2 1 1 0 $12 Tiger-Heli 1 1 0 $10 To The Earth 1 1 1 $22 Tombs & Treasure 1 1 1 $75 Top Gun - The Second Mission 1 1 0 $8 Top Players' Tennis Evert & Lendl 1 0 0 $10 Total Recall 1 1 1 $30 Track & Field 1 0 0 $5 Track & Field II 1 1 1 $18 Trojan 1 0 0 $8 Twin Cobra 1 0 0 $10 Twin Eagle 1 0 0 $12 Vegas Dream 1 1 1 $20 Venice Beach Volleyball 1 0 0 $12 Vindicators 1 0 1 $20 Wayne Gretzky Hockey (Black Jersey) 1 0 0 $8 WCW: World Championship Wrestling 1 0 0 $12 Wheel of Fortune 1 1 0 $7 Wheel of Fortune: Family Edition 1 0 0 $5 Where in Time Is Carmen Sandiego? 1 1 1 $50 Where's Waldo? 1 1 0 $15 Win, Lose or Draw 1 1 0 $6 Winter Games 1 0 1 $15 Wizards & Warriors III, Kuros.Visions of Power 1 0 0 $15 Wolverine 1 1 0 $20 World Class Track Meet (w/ custom box) 1 0 1 $15 World Games 1 0 0 $8 Wrath of the Black Manta 1 0 1 $15 Xenophobe 1 0 0 $10 - Retron 3 CIB - Retron 5 console CIB (w/ official tote bag) ******NEW & SEALED - AND - UNPLAYED******* NES Aftermarket / Homebrew / Reproductions CIB (ENTERTAINING OFFERS!!) -Chuck Yeagers Figher Combat (w/ flight pin) $100 -Fighing Simulator (Good Guy Cover) $90 -Blow 'Em Out $55 -Swords and Runes $85 -Happily Ever After $90 -War on Wheels $80 -Hotman $75 -Flappy $75 -Battle City $80 -Shoot Ufo $80 -Sky Destroyer $80 -Joust More $70 -Warp Man $75 -Baltron $75 -Superman: (Sealed) $80 -Targa (SNES Aftermarket / Reproduction) $80
  9. Video Game Sage Homebrew Leader Board Competition 2020 Welcome to the first official VGS Homebrew Leader Board Competition (HBLBC). The purpose of this competition is to figure out who is the best, not by talk or machoness, but by a series of gaming feats in strength, intellect, and twitch skills. For the one who comes out on top, you will be crowned champion 2020, brag all you like with such a sweet title, and will be given a badge for all to envy until the end of time. Whenever your name is mentioned, it comes with the recognition of the First VGS Homebrew Champion. -And now on to the competition- HBLBC Moderators: @Deadeye @Scrobins Overview: There will be a regular season of 9 games, that are available as free downloaded ROMs, followed by a final season of 3 games. Some of the games were released as physical carts as well. Using the physical carts instead of the ROM files is okay. Eligibility for the final season is determined by your ranking during the regular season. Amount of players for the final season is TBD. Prize: Final Prize - A HBLBC Badge that can be added to your signature footer. Bragging Rights. Intermediate Prizes – Several to be given throughout the competition. Prize and rules will be announced in the month’s game thread. Announcement of prize may come at any time during the round. Participants: It is open to any VGS member who wishes to participate, free entry. This includes members, administrators, moderators, events team members, competition moderators, the game’s developers, producers, testers, etc. Basically, if you have an active account, you can participate. Games / Schedule: Regular Season There will be one game played a month starting in January. Each game will start on the first Friday of the month and run for 16 days, ending on a Sunday (about 2 weeks). Rules for each game will be posted on the first Friday of the month, announcing the start of that month's game. Once the rules are posted, that month’s game is live until the posted end time (VGS time). Game list is subject to change due to unforeseen changes. January 3 - 19, 2020 Game 1 - 8-Bit XMAS 2018, by RetroUSB, Download Here (Physical Cart Okay) February 7 - 23, 2020 Game 2 - The Rise of Amondus, by Slydog Studios, Download Here (Physical Cart Okay) March 6 - 22, 2020 Game 3 - Jammin Honey, By Doug Fraker, Download Here April 3 - 19, 2020 Game 4 - Mine Shaft, by Nioreh, Download Here May 1 - 17, 2020 Game 5 - Troll Burner, by The New 8-bit Heroes, Download Here (Physical Cart Okay) June 5 - 21, 2020 Game 6 - SHMUP Speed, by KHAN Games / Gloves, Download Here (Physical Cart Okay) July 3 - 19, 2020 Game 7 - NES Virus Cleaner, by Slydog Studios, Download Here (Physical Cart Okay) August 7 - 23, 2020 Game 8 - Brony Blaster, by FG Software, Download Here September 4 - 20, 2020 Game 9 - Cowlitz Gamers' Second Adventure, by Lukasz Kur / M-Tee, Download Here (Physical Cart Okay) Mega pack regular season ROM download ZIP Here Final Season October 2 - 18, 2020 Game 10 - TBD November 6 - 22, 2020 Game 11 - TBD December 4 - 20, 2020 Game 12 - TBD Scores / Awards: Points will be awarded based on how you place. Participation points require a score to be submitted. 1st – 10 points 2nd – 9 points 3rd – 8 points 4th – 7 points 5th – 6 points 6th – 5 points 7th – 4 points 8th – 3 points Participation – 2 points Points will be added to the leader board at the close of that month’s competition. Points will be accumulated and be your total score. Final scores on the regular season leader board will determine your position for the final season. How to submit your score: 1. Scores shall be submitted by posting a picture to that month’s game thread. Screenshots of a computer screen (print screen) are not acceptable. 2. The picture must include the entire screen and have your VGS user name within the picture on a piece of paper. Username can not be added digitally to the picture. 3. Type out your score in bold on your thread post. 4. Scores must be submitted within the posted time frame. 5. Do not submit scores from previous runs. 6. Use one post for your score. You can submit as many as you like by editing your original post. You can bump the thread to announce your new score. Rules: 1. NTSC only, no PAL. This will create a level playing field and not create differences based on timing. 2. OEM, FPGA, and clone consoles are OKAY. 3. Emulators are OKAY. Play game at 100% speed. 4. No save states allowed. 5. Flashcarts (i.e. Everdrive / Power Pak) are OKAY. 6. No turbo or slow motion controllers are allowed. 7. No game genie codes. 8. Do not use glitches in the game to boost your score. Cheating: You should all know that cheating is not allowed. The HBLBC moderators reserve the right for a video verification routine in order to prevent cheating. Don’t take it personal if video verification is requested, the request does not mean that cheating is already determined. If a participate suspects another player of cheating, send the HBLBC moderators a PM. Your identity will be not be posted publicly in the competition thread. Be Kind To Others: Discussion and friendly banter is okay, but refrain from posts that are attacks or disrupt the competition. If the competition moderators feel that someone is behaving improperly, the person will be removed from the competition. *All rules are subject to change at any time due to unforeseen circumstances. This competition was put together by the VGS Administrator, Events Team, and the HBLBC Moderators. Thank you for joining in and have fun!
  10. A Homebrew Draws Near! A blog series by @Scrobins Episode 1: Project Blue Introduction: Promoting a new homebrew game must be exhausting, especially if you are maintaining hype and anticipation while continuing development of the game itself. Each tease must generate enough curiosity and excitement to stoke conversation while saving enough detail for the release, which has its own rules to communicate an engaging, persuasive pitch. As a new game crosses the finish line, destined perhaps to become the next essential gem, here is an opportunity to learn the story of the heart behind the homebrew. For this entry, I’m covering Project Blue, a new action platformer brought to you by the combined talents of toggle_switch, FrankenGraphics, and M-Tee. As of the time of this writing, the rom of Project Blue is available for purchase here, and the cartridge release is currently being assembled. If you missed out on the Kickstarter, you can e-mail pragmaticfanatic@gmail.com to get on the mailing list. Development Team: @toggle switch (Donny Phillips): programming, music, level editing, game & level design @FrankenGraphics (Ellen Larsson): graphics, cutscene music, game & level design, campaign video @M-Tee: cover art, illustrations, manual Screenshot from Original Tech Demo Game Evolution: Though set in a dystopian future, Project Blue’s story can be traced as far back as 2017, when Donny and Ellen submitted a demo version of the game to the Annual NESDev Coding Competition, where Project Blue placed 2nd in its category. Screenshot from Demo Submitted to NESDev Competition Buoyed by effusive praise, Donny and Ellen brought M-Tee onto the development team and continued working on Project Blue, preparing all the materials necessary for an effective crowdfunding campaign. By late 2019 the team was ready, and Project Blue launched on Kickstarter on October 17, 2019 with an initial funding goal of $10,000. To help promote the game and show off the dev team’s sense of humor, the campaign’s trailer features a taste of gameplay in the guise of a VHS-quality “personnel training video” from OmniCorp’s Quality Control Dept., starring Ellen’s roommate. OmniCorp takes quality control super seriously in its trailers, thank you for your service, Alonnika The alt text suggested by Word for this picture was: a person wearing a hat and smiling at the camera Before the campaign had been live for a full 24-hours, Project Blue exceeded its initial goal. Ready to ride that momentum, the dev team announced a slate of stretch goals such as demo releases of Project Blue (including the original tech demo Donny used to pitch the game to Ellen, as well as an updated demo), a retro desktop icon set, a graphics patch to gender swap the protagonist Blue, a game-themed winamp skin, enamel pins, a “heartless” mode difficulty setting, and a chiptune album by Ellen. Each of these stretch goals was quickly surpassed as the campaign ultimately received more than quadruple its initial goal. UPDATE: On June 24, 2020, First Press Games launched a new Kickstarter aiming to bring Project Blue to the Famicom, potentially opening new avenues for expanding the reach of homebrew games. Gameplay Overview: Project Blue describes itself as an action platformer, which is perhaps an understatement with an environment as dynamic as Project Blue’s. At first glance, you would be forgiven for noticing a lot of similarities to the Battle Kid games. However while fans of that infamously difficult homebrew series will find much to enjoy in Project Blue’s familiar gameplay, Project Blue offers a range of challenges all its own where you can fire projectiles, bounce on springboards, float on hover decks, glide with parachutes, fly with the aid of roto-caps, climb, swim, and more. In an early room of the game, a trampoline seems out of reach until you notice an enemy’s fire slowly breaking the block on which the trampoline rests; meaning a little patience will drop that trampoline right at your feet. You play as Blue, a “volunteer” for OmniCorp’s experimentations capable of releasing bursts of bio energy from your forearms. Having escaped confinement, you trek across Neo Hong Kong to exact revenge against OmniCorp’s boardroom directorate. Don’t be misled, the board members and their interns are no armchair villains; their drive for power will give new meaning to the term “think tank”. Along the way, Blue will encounter an assortment of OmniCorp bots, security devices, and other hazards that will challenge players to consider how to pass between 256 different rooms across 4 levels. Don’t worry though, there are ample checkpoints as you progress, though you won’t know you reached one until you use it. Blue will also find heart containers to restore life, energy boosts to temporarily power up his bio energy bursts, 1-ups and credits (100 of which will buy you an extra life). Gameplay screenshot Writer’s Review: Project Blue’s setting applies a thick layer of girt and grime to Neo Hong Kong’s concrete jungle, creating an engaging, lived-in cyberpunk world, reminiscent of Robocop, Blade Runner, and Dark City. Even the game manual stays in-character, playing the role of an OmniCorp investor portfolio while teaching you the game and building the sci-fi horror mythology that surrounds it. Controls are tight and generally intuitive but contain subtle tricks that will benefit the player patient enough to learn them. For instance, jumping in place will allow you to jump fairly high but not as high as jumping while in motion. As stated earlier, the environment is incredibly dynamic, affording multiple avenues to passing from one room to the next, inviting creativity from practiced speedrunners as well as unskilled, but enthusiastic fans such as myself. The checkpoints are invaluable for a game as challenging as Project Blue, but I think the fact that the player doesn’t know where they are is a fun, if devious touch that raises the stakes for the player and adds a little anxiety to gameplay. A variety of enemies and hazards that would be cute if they weren’t so deadly offer more color and personality, further distinguishing Project Blue from its peers and forebears. And of course, there’s the level editor. On the one hand I’m ecstatic that Project Blue follows in the footsteps of homebrews such as Spook-o’-tron and The Incident with the inclusion of a level editor so people can design their own levels and carry Project Blue toward infinite replayability. But on the other hand, if I’m already struggling with normal mode, what hope do I have with the inevitable Project Blue kaizo hacks? First Grand Poo World, next up Grand Blue World??? In all seriousness though, releasing the level editor is a clever way to excite players, expand the mythos of the game, and lower barriers to future homebrew development. Project Blue is an excellent example of just how much the NES still has to offer gamers. And as one of the latest homebrew games, Project Blue raises the bar both in terms of style and substance. The physical cartridges have not even been released yet, and already Project Blue is taking its place among the pantheon of aftermarket gems. Bottom line: get this game. And if you are one of those people who plays a game like Project Blue then talks a big talk about making more challenging levels yourself, fire up the level editor and throw down. Interviews: For all we’ve seen thus far, there is more to Project Blue than the final product and the effective PR that keeps this game at the front of our minds. Behind Project Blue are 3 people whose skill and style give it life. To better appreciate the passion that went into its development, I spoke with Donny, Ellen, and M-Tee to learn more… toggle_switch -Before we get into Project Blue, I'd love to talk about you and your background. What was the catalyst that pulled you into coding, and what inspired you to develop a homebrew game? What is the origin story of Toggle Switch? I used to 'design' video games as a little kid, circa 1987 or so. Mostly just coming up with enemy ideas or sketching levels on graph paper, stuff like that. So it's always been an interest of mine since a very young age. I got into programming after watching Hackers a bit later in life (an extremely cheesy movie that I still have a soft spot for). I was probably 13 or so then, and even though it was obvious that programming computers wasn't nearly as fun as it looked in the movie, it hooked me anyhow. Demoscenes were big at the time, so I mainly learned by downloading snippets of code with our new 14.4K dial-up modem and dissecting them. The first time I tried to make an NES game, was probably 2001 or 2002. I was able to find one tutorial by a kid that taught how to set the color of the screen. The only other stuff I could find was just lists of technical data, so I gave up. I tried again around 2006-2007 and again wasn't able to find the resources that I needed - I'm not sure if I just didn't find them or if they still didn't exist at that time. As soon as I became aware that making NES games was a possibility, I started trying to learn the necessary skills to do so. I think that would have been around the time that Lizard, an NES homebrew by Brad Smith, was on Kickstarter - that was the first game that I found out about. After reading the forums and wiki at NESDev for a few years, I started working on Project Blue in 2017. It's my first NES project of any real size. -Who are your influences? And whose work are you watching closely now? In the homebrew scene, I've been inspired by the success of several projects, I think the reception that Twin Dragons and Nebs 'n Debs got really made me want to put out a game that could be mentioned in the same sentence as those two. And of course I mentioned Lizard above, that was the game that got me interested in making my own game. I try to keep a close watch on the whole scene, but it's getting so big now that projects seem to come out of nowhere! Watching the homebrew scene really coalesce into what feels like a new golden age in the last few years has been amazing. I feel really lucky that it happens to coincide with our game coming out. In the broader world of video games, I found that Edmund McMillen, developer of Super Meat Boy, has some really good advice on level design that I did my best to follow while making Project Blue. This discussion with the legendary Shigeru Miyamoto on how they made World 1-1 in Super Mario Bros also shaped the way that I approach level design. -Your work on Project Blue spans the game's coding, music, and level design. In developing it would you say it has any qualities that seem so quintessentially you? How would you describe your aesthetic? What was the evolution of your signature style? For my part, the aesthetic of Project Blue is strongly influenced by cyberpunk and post apocalyptic media - including things like Fallout, Johnny Mnemonic, Blade Runner, Elephantmen, etc. Honestly the game world was pretty thin before Ellen started making art. Once I saw the art she had made for Level 1, the game evolved from more of a plastic-y, sci-fi future, to a dark, grim, corporate nightmare. -What tools do you use to code and compose? For coding, I swear by NESICIDE. And for composing, just regular old Famitracker. -Tell me about the evolution of Project Blue, what was your process for taking an idea and manifesting it? How did Blue himself evolve from your initial tech demo to the final game? Project Blue is my first attempt at doing anything on the NES, really. So it began with me seeing if I could put graphics on the screen, then adding sprites, then adding code for the controller, and so on and so forth. So I was really just learning as much as I needed to complete the next step at any point in time. In the end, this meant a lot of decisions that I made were locked in before I had fully understood their ramifications, which was pretty frustrating on occasion. But overall it was a great learning experience and the engine I'm designing for my next game is going to fix a lot of those errors. As for Blue, he started out as an avatar of myself as a young child. As the world around him formed, he went from being a Platonic ideal of a heroic figure to having more of a tragic backstory. On the gameplay side of things, he's modeled after both Mario and Mega Man - he moves like Mario, but shoots and has a health system like Mega Man. And he's smaller than both of them, which makes him harder to hit! Portrait of the artist as a young 8-bit man -I think it's fair to say that the protagonist represents the player's point of immersion in the game, and how we perceive and understand the protagonist contextualizes how we perceive the game's world. You said that the design for Blue's character began as an avatar of your younger self, what qualities were at the front of your mind when designing with that intention? Was the evolution of Blue's sprite from your tech demo through the NESdev compo entry and ultimately to the finished game, cover, and manual a rapid or gradual process? How did that conversation with Ellen and M-Tee unfold? When I was a kid I used to dream about making Nintendo games so it just felt natural to have a little version of me in the game. The graphical restrictions on the NES make it hard to include much detail, so my original mockup was just of me with brown hair wearing jeans and a denim jacket, which was a fairly common outfit for me in the 80's. Initially Blue was a hero breaking into Omnicorp's facilities to stop some evil plot, eventually we changed him into a victim of Omnicorp, escaping from a testing lab. This changed pretty much everything and provided the character with some actual adversity to overcome. And really the rest of the world began to take shape around that. The rest of the character was fleshed out when Ellen and I asked M-Tee to do some illustration for us. He began asking questions about the game world to inform his art, which in turn meant that we needed to invent answers and create a more cohesive game world. Gender-swapped protagonists demonstrate OmniCorp does not discriminate in its experimentations -What was it like working with Ellen and M-Tee? How did you connect with them for this project? Is there Rolodex for finding game development talent? Honestly it was a great experience. Not having any skills when it comes to pixel art or illustration made it very hard to start on a project. The first thing I did was just start the game by myself using some free pixel art I found online. That allowed me to start working without a partner. I had been eyeing Ellen's work from a distance on NESDev, and it just so happened that she posted a thread looking for collaborators at the same time that I was finishing up a demo I'd made specifically for her. We brought on M-Tee later in the process to do the illustrations for the box art and manual, and I've been very pleased with the results. I've honestly been very hands off and allowed them both to have a lot of freedom in developing the world as they see fit, only stepping in if something strongly contradicts my own ideas. So it's been a very collaborative process between the three of us. -Project Blue has a fun setting and premise to immerse the player: battling an evil corporation in the midst of a post-apocalyptic hellscape (do I detect an homage to Snatcher?)? How did this engaging universe coming into being? Was this a story that always fascinated you, or did the gameplay come first and you then built a world around it? Never played Snatcher... the main inspiration for OmniCorp and the general world (or at least, the parts that I have a hand in) is an indie comic called Elephantmen, wherein the MAPPO corporation designs armies of genetically modified animal/human hybrids in effort for global domination. But instead of being about all that, it takes place decades later as the hybrids are attempting to integrate into a normal society. Another large inspiration is Fallout, and the corporate antagonists Vault-Tec. The first iteration of Project Blue took place in an obviously fictional city named Pixel City and involved the player breaking into an OmniCorp facility to stop some sort of vague plot that was never really fleshed out in any way. So while there was an evil corporation and the same protagonist, the world itself was much more childish and whimsical. At some point we didn't have enough art for a scene of Blue breaking into the facility so we just decided to have him breaking out instead. To accommodate this, the world slowly became darker and grittier, which ultimately I think was a change for the better. The original 'plot' was very boilerplate - it didn't have a lot of character or originality, because it wasn't something I put a lot of thought into. Through our collaborative process I think we developed something that feels a lot more fleshed out and compelling. As for the last question, gameplay absolutely came first. One thing that I really wanted to nail was strong controls. As I mentioned above, the controls are loosely based on Super Mario physics, which ultimately ends up affecting how you design the rest of the game, because you have a player character that is immensely agile and fast. And for me, I would think of what game mechanics I wanted first, and then how we could accommodate those mechanics within our world. I think Ellen might do it the other way around though, so it might be a bit of both as she had a hand in developing the mechanics for levels 2 and 3 in particular. Breakout! -What new challenges or surprises surfaced in developing Project Blue? What lessons did you learn that you would like to share with the people who follow in your footsteps? The biggest problems I had all stemmed from designing engines that weren't flexible. Like, for some unknown reason I hardcoded in that sprites could a maximum of 4 tiles - which repeatedly came back to be extremely annoying. So always design flexible systems that can be used for as many things as possible. Second, I made a lot of mistakes at first in trying not to waste ROM space. But then we ended up switching to a mapper that had way more memory than we needed anyway. So my second piece of advice is that ROM is the easiest limitation of the NES to "cheat" on, and you should take advantage of that as necessary. -Social media is aflame right now with praise for Project Blue! How does it feel to bask in such support? Honestly it's such a relief to have it out there and for people not to be disappointed! So far I've actually only received positive feedback, which has been incredible. -Is there another project after Project Blue on the horizon? Another dream project that you hope to bring into existence? Right now I'm working on a new engine for the next few games I want to make. It has a ton of substantial improvements over the Project Blue engine - 4 way scrolling, DCM support, more flexible sprites, more space for graphics, cutscenes, and so on and so forth. I'm really excited to be working on a new engine after being sick of the old one for well over a year! Ellen is onboard to make our next game, Project Violet. Violet is Blue's older sister - she's bigger, faster, stronger, and she does wall jumps and other neat tricks. So right now I'm building a level editor and the engine for the game side-by-side. -I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me and share your experiences. Is there anything else you would like to tell readers and fans? Thank you all for your support! FrankenGraphics -Before we get into Project Blue, I'd love to talk about you and your background. What was the catalyst that pulled you into coding and pixel art, and what drew you to the NES in particular? What is the origin story of FrankenGraphics? It started early. Me and some other kids used to draw our own level designs on paper back then. For me it was bubble bobble, Castlevania and blaster master. It was all a creative fantasy. But one summer day, my grandma pulled out all her old cobol and fortran programming sheets and showed me. I didn't understand any of it but was immediately retro bitten; back when retro would have been something wholly different, because kids still played the NES and SNES at home like it was something current. This was sometime in the early 90s. From there I took every chance I got. Sometimes I’d wait at dad's workplace, I’d find myself pixling patterns all zoomed in on paint for windows 3.11. Eventually, I got a decommissioned 286 laptop from my moms' job. it only had what amounted to 16 ega colours through a monochrome display, but I started using qBasic for manually putting in bitmaps and drawing simple things. My older brother got a mac, and with it came resedit, which is a hex editor with some graphics editing capabilities. that meant I started doing 16 by 16 pixel objects in 256 colours. I hacked some of my own graphics into a shareware game called Realmz. At this time though, I mostly played the NES because that's what we had. The SNES was already out and then came PlayStation but I mostly played NES games throughout my upbringing. We never got any other console and I wasn't particularly interested in upgrading either. I remember trying out Nintendo 64 at the toy store and deciding then and there that this wasn't my cup of tea. It was either the NES or PC gaming for me. At some point in 2008 I was looking for a way to tap into my nostalgia; primarily qBasic for DOS. I was looking for equivalents on modern platforms but nothing suited me. Then I started googling for NES development instead and found the NESDev boards. I didn't put any commitment into it then, only went there for reading some threads occasionally without ever registering. That happened in 2016, I think, when I saw the works of a few other pixel artists and decided I wanted in on it. I was serious this time. -It sounds like computing and programming skills run deep in your family, and they were a great influence on you, can you talk a little bit about their line of work? It's sort of the opposite... grandma used to program in her day, back when administrative work meant programming. But I’m definitely the technical support for my parents. they didn't show any interest in us picking it up as a hobby so I once again have my grandma to thank for sending me a yearly subscription of a computer magazine when I was growing up, haha. Mom used to be a city planner and dad used to be a school teacher, mom doing a lot of technical drawing for traffic, parking lots, parks and rec probably had a big influence on me being more interested in the where the artistic and technical side of computing meets. I never pursued learning programming in any professional capacity, but I’ve mostly been in tangential fields of work, like interface design and such. -Who are your influences? And whose work fascinates you today? I grew up particularly liking the style of games like Castlevania III, Batman, Metal Gear to name a few. I think you can see that most of my pixel art for the NES uses the same "fade to black" technique. Black has this fantastic property that it leaves it to the perception of the viewer to fill in the blanks, which is very useful when you've only got so many tiles to work with. It doesn't need to be black really, you'll find this in a lot of art. Shades and shadows are often a lot less detailed, which both gives the eye some rest, orientation, and at the same time leaves things to the viewers' subconscious imagination. I decided to join NESDev after seeing works such as the pixel art of thaddeus, who'd made new fan graphics for Simon's Quest that looked lovely. At the same time I was exposed to "Super Bat Puncher" by Morphcat and thought that just maybe, there was a possibility to make something for this old console, even for me. So that's the turning point for me, I think. I decided I wanted to do original works only. No fan games or hacks. I had done a little bit of that before; changing the roster and looks of Volleyball for example. But I wanted to do something to call my own. For influences, I look a lot outside pixel art, to be honest. I particularly like other forms of forced formats, such as pointillist and impressionist paintings, stained glass, what tends to be called "the golden age of illustration" (think novel illustrations for Arabian Nights, King Arthur, folktale stories), woodcuts, and east bloc mosaics. Within pixel art, I particularly like the palette animated 256 indexed colour works of Mark J. Ferrari. Jungle Waterfall – Morning, by Mark J. Ferrari -I remember back in the NintendoAge days you sold a few copies of your concept cart, which you also give to young girls at workshops to pique their interest in computing and game design. Tell me more about these workshops. What are your observations on diversity in the game design community? I used to hold a few workshops a few years back. It wasn't expressed as exclusively for girls, but I particularly addressed them because I’d like to see the game industry more diverse than it is now. They'd spend half a day making graphics for the NES and then actually put it on cartridge. One of the workshops was held at a museum, so their works would be displayed on an NES and tv screen over that summer. If they liked it, they could burn a cartridge and take it home. Maybe, some day, some of them might continue that journey, is my hopes. I haven't had much time to put together new workshops lately. My thoughts on diversity? Too little of it, still today. Box art for FrankenGraphics Concept Cart -Your work on Project Blue covers pixel art, level design, and putting meat on the bones of Donny’s initial idea. In the words of your Kickstarter page, how did a vague idea transform into a fully fleshed out world? When Donny contacted me, he simply wanted me to replace the placeholder art for his tech demo; especially redraw his sprites. The game then already felt about the same in terms of player physics, but the story was something like "pixel guy in video land shoots pellets". Not an exact phrase from anywhere, but that was the kind of feel. I felt it could use a setting. At the time, I had just read Cixin Liu's The Three Body Problem which is about a lot of things, but one particular passage was about an experimental computer lab deep in the woodlands of china in the 70s. The first level set was clearly inspired by that and the rest kind of just evolved. For the second zone, I did a lot of research on illegal housing in big cities around the world and eventually decided to go for a dystopian, future version of the Hong Kong peninsula. The "dezone" as we call it in game was made to imply some history without telling exactly how and when. But you can note details such as some places looking like squats in deteriorating high rise buildings, and the squats themselves are also mysteriously abandoned. Eventually when M-Tee came on board for the box and manual illustrations, we fleshed out the finer details together in a group chat; most of which doesn't directly show in the game. But M-Tee came to author the text of the manual, so a lot of the information about the world of Project Blue comes directly from his pen. -Given your work on the pixel art, how would you say Project Blue reflects your particular style? And to take a step back, how would you describe your aesthetic generally? There's hardware limitations and there is software limitations. I think I managed to get a lot of my style into Project Blue; especially the backgrounds, but it is in many ways a very constrained game making some strict assumptions about game objects and level layout. Although I tried my best to hide it, you can often tell signs of the metatile compression which has a very special "look" many associate as the "NES" style, although it's not necessarily a mandatory trait of the system. (I try to remove that trait altogether in my gothic romance project, tentatively called "Borscht" for the lack of a good name, to show what the NES can really do, given enough storage spent on levels). The bonus of this is that we managed to fit three completely separate versions of the 256 screens into ROM memory of the game, which ultimately means there's 768 level screens in total in that game. I can't safely say every one of them is unique, and some changes are very subtle, like nudging enemy positions a few pixels to make them shoot oftener and such, but that has got to be some kind record on the platform. One thing I’m proud of is that the art helped make Project Blue a platformer game with an 8x8 granularity, which especially shows in the more organic environments of "the dezone" and "underground". Most NES games stick with a 16x16 collision grid because that is a convenient coincidence with the coarse palette grid. But 8x8 collision gives you a lot of finesse in terms of platforming and challenge design. The height axis is especially important. I think I’d describe my style as dirty, fuzzy, maybe organic. I'm not great at sharp lines, bold strokes, simple design or cartoony clarity, and I’m not too good at character concept art either - but I’m pretty good at hiding patterns, attention to details above all, and also colour management and figuring out ways to get the most out of the technical limitations. For the end screen, we're using a very rare trick that sets the Red and Green emphasis bits together, which shifts the whole palette towards tan and yellow or otherwise warm colours, while blue colours tend to lose saturation. This was never done before in an actual game, to my knowledge, so emulators vary wildly from each other and an actual original NES. My hope is that emulator and clone developers will pick up the challenge to get the hues, saturations and slightly dimmed brightness correct. For my own sake, I don't like when things are too clean, but can sometimes appreciate it in the works of others. Project Borscht teaser shared on VGS -What tools do you use to code and create? Not that I did any coding for Blue other than making some data tables - that's all on Donny's side of the table. But for my own projects I use sublime (text editor) and ca65 (a 6502 assembler; part of the cc65 suite). For graphics, I almost exclusively use shiru's NESST (NES screen tool). Occasionally I use other tools such as aseprite and photoshop but they're not as platform specific, and generally too slow to work with. On one hand, I think we're in a golden age, at least for the NES, because we've got a lot better documentation, tools, and community support than the devs of the historical NES library had at their disposal. On the other hand, pixel art in general is in a bit of a dark age because the old tools that professionals used to use don't work anymore. New tools are often either very specific, or have clunky interfaces. Indexed colour animation is not a feature in any of them. There's no concept of position animating an object separately from the pixel animation cels, unless you take the detour and montage still frames in AfterEffects. At least, if you batch export your frames from your pixel editor, AE would update its assets automatically. Many seem to recommend pro motion, but you have to accept a very particular workflow that is definitely geared towards modern bitmap works, and while others seem to have success with it, I can't seem to gel with it. What's really great about NESST, if you're only making NES graphics, is how direct the interface is. Everything you do a lot is one click away; sometimes with a modifier key. That's twice as fast as toggling tools with a hotkey (the photoshop/aseprite way) and then clicking, and you never have the headache of mistakenly using the wrong tool when you click. The caveat is that you absolutely need to read the readme, experiment some, and then read it again to get the most out of it, but that's the price of an efficient interface. I think the NESST way of doing things is commendable. If you're going to spend a lot of time with a tool, efficiency is more important than beginner friendliness. Most of my work on Project Blue was carried out inside Donny's custom Level Editor. I think I spent something like 10% on the graphics themselves, 10% campaigning and keeping in touch with people, and 80% on the never ending process of making the levels fun and robust. -What was it like working with Donny and M-Tee? It's been great! They're great guys. We've always an understanding that we'd be in it long term. It's kind of funny how we live in totally different time zones, though. We've never had the benefit of working together on it in the same room. You can't have creative sprints the same way like this, but on the other hand you get to sleep on things a lot. So it probably takes more time with all the extra communication in letter form, but it's worth it. During the most critical period of laying things down for the game, we used the productivity tool Asana, but we've mostly restored to mail and chat across several platforms. I still use Asana sometimes for organizing myself though. -Project Blue’s level designs thread the needle of easy to learn, but difficult to master. How do you strike that balance? How do you please both casual gamers and gluttons for punishment? I think the short answer is, you don't, as in there's no single action that suddenly makes it balanced. It's a lot more like wood carving, I think. At first, you get the coarse shapes out, then you spend a lot of time on the small details. But I think what helps Project Blue have something for different play styles and skill levels is that it offers different promises for different people. If you're more of a casual platformer player, the reward is to survive and get to the next room. If you're doing it for sport, there's a lot of headroom for improving your finesse - making elegant jumps and shots. Then, you might want to try to see if you can make it on time. Then you've suddenly raised the difficulty bar for yourself because Project Blue is a whole different game when you play it calculated and safe, and when you're trying to run through it. I'm hoping we're satisfying skilled speedrunners too, because there's a lot of both tactical decisions and finesse to improve, and secret shortcut tricks to discover. Beyond that, I think we were just really lucky when combining the SMB-like acceleration and jumping scheme with tricky level layouts like this turned out to be a fun recipe. -What new challenges or surprises did Project Blue present to you? What lessons did you learn that you will carry forward to future projects? For me personally, Project Blue is my first big NES game. I've collaborated before on competition entries, and they were all small. I think I’ve learned a lot about the general workflow and how to not waste too much time.. it's been a trailblazer for me. If I have one design regret, it was that we used one (quite big) metatile dictionary* per as many as 64 screens. That took forever to optimize, and it was also too easy to break it since a change on one screen could have destructive implications on other screens using the same set. Had we redone it today, I’d say one definition per 16 screens or something. I'd probably also take the investment and make the twice amount of tilesets for that many screens - I think it'd pay off both in looks and in saved time, ironically. *A metatile is a defined instruction for the placement of one or usually several tiles. Often in a group of 2x2. Each zone in Project blue has a metatile dictionary of 256 metatiles, and then another dictionary of 1024 meta-metatiles. I don't think most players will notice, considering Project Blue has a more detailed levels than most NES games, but that was spread dangerously thin across the 64 screens sharing them, making level design a resource distribution puzzle. -Social media is buzzing with praise for Project Blue, calling it one of the best homebrews ever! How does it feel to bask in such support? Haha do they? I've mostly paid attention to the reviews we've been getting on itch, and it has been heart warming. Like, it was all worth it. People seem to be enjoying the game and that's all I could ask for. It's a shame itch reviews aren't automatically public, because that could probably help casual itch browsers passing by trusting us as game creators. -Is there another project after Project Blue on the horizon? Another dream project that you hope to bring into existence? I’ve been enjoying your teases for Project Borscht on VGS and I’ve seen the page on your website about an idea for a roller derby game. I'm working on Halcyon with Nathan Tolbert (although, it has been a very improductive year for me on that end, I’m just picking up the pace again). It's a planetary exploration and action game in and out of a vehicle. People will no doubt compare it to both blaster master and Metroid. "Project Borsht" is definitely my passion project. I've written most of the music for it, and now I’m making scenes based on the impressions the music gives me. It's going to be a gothic romance platformer with a splash of Slavic folk tales, superstition, and history, but set in an alternate fairytale version of medieval Europe. I also hope to bring a bit of inspiration from Poe's "the masque of the red death" into it, but most people will probably recognize it for being inspired from the platforming action from Castlevania and atmosphere from Simon's Quest. We (mostly Donny) is already working on the foundation of another game set in the same universe as Project Blue. All I can say for now is that it will probably have a different feel to it, gameplay wise, like all proper NES sequels seem to have. It does scrolling, has a bit coarser level structure, and the character is going to be a bit more agile in some ways than blue was. Teaser image of Halcyon from Frankengraphics.com -Also I have to ask since you mention on your site that you train with Gothenburg Roller Derby, what position do you play and what is your derby name? Haha oh my, does my blog still state that somewhere? I was just a rookie for a few seasons before work got in the way. My derby name was "hen hysén" which was a bad pun on replacing a locally well-known soccer veterans' forename with the Swedish gender-neutral pronoun. the word "hen" (singular they) caused lots of debate when conservatives reacted to when the author of a children’s story used it to describe its protagonist back in 2012. -I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me and share your experiences. Is there anything else you would like to tell readers and fans? Thank you! Maybe.. Tell your friends about Project Blue... or rather NES homebrew in general! Invite them over. I think lots of people who'd love to play new NES games coming out simply don't know that it's a thing. M-Tee -Before we dive into your work on Project Blue, I'd love to talk about your work generally. What inspired you to be an artist generally, as well as a graphical artist for homebrew design specifically? What are the origins of M-Tee? An amazing high school art teacher put me on the path to becoming one myself, although I worked a lot of jobs along the way, ranging from day laborer to graphic designer. The first few years I was finally teaching, I was building a portfolio of short stories and comics for children's illustration. I also got involved with a local arts group, exhibiting work a couple of times a year. Neither fully satisfied my creative itch, and despite the fact that I was making all-ages art anyway, the pressure of creating artwork as a teacher—where everything I was sharing would be google-able by current and future students and parents—was becoming overwhelming. A Montage of Pre-M-Tee Artwork, 2010—2013 Looking for a lower stakes creative outlet, I penned the M-Tee moniker to dip my toes back into my old teenage hobby of ROM hacking. But so few people were actually creating new content in that scene. Optomon and his project, Pyron (which we’d later retitle Pyronaut), were a notable exception. I joined him and we worked on that for a while before putting it on hiatus for each of us to do other things. Most recently, he released Rollie, which I'm super stoked to play. Learning NES Graphics Restrictions through ROM Hacking (Unfinished / Unreleased Works from 2012—2014) Meanwhile, I'd come across the homebrew scene on Nintendo Age, and it was full of people doing exactly what I wanted to support: the creation of totally new content—IPs and all. In time, I'd end up contributing not only graphics, but illustration, packaging design, game design, and writing for NES homebrew. It has been a fruitful outlet for nearly any creative desire I've had, and the community as a whole—both developers and fans—have been more of a supportive audience than I could ever ask for. I had originally thought I'd be working as M-Tee for just a few months to scratch a particular itch, but I found it far more rewarding than the other work I had been doing, and now my M-Tee accomplishments are proudly on my résumé. If I'd known that going in, I'd have put more than 30 seconds' thought into choosing the name. (Long story short, M-Tee is essentially short for manatee.) M-Tee Cover Art to Date -Which artists initially inspired you? As a student, I found Western art history intensely boring, but I would occasionally latch onto the more visually interesting stuff like the densely detailed and humorously bizarre work of Hieronymus Bosch. Outside of class, I’d seek out other artists who appealed to me. One of these artists was Jesús Helguera, whose bold figural compositions have definitely influenced my body of work. I also got into Japanese woodblock prints at this time (and would later spend time as a pretty active printmaker myself, a likely contributor to my comfort with limited, flat colors). Details from Artwork by Hieronymus Bosch, Jesús Helguera, Kobayashi Kiyochika, and Giorgio Morandi As my interest in color theory grew, I started getting into painters like Giorgio Morandi who worked within a very specific, tightly keyed, palette: high in value, low in saturation. I’d soon find similar palettes being used in French sci-fi, masterfully complimenting the work of animation director René Laloux and the ligne claire drawing style of Moebius. But more modern artists, including Ulises Farinas and the late Seth Fisher, had been combining the same clarity of line with dense, Bosch-like detail and humor. This type of art, and the way it rewards viewers for studying it in detail, is very much what I’ve been wanting to explore for the last few years. (In fact, there are a few Easter eggs hidden away in the Project Blue cover art.) Details from Artwork by René Laloux, Jean Giraud (Moebius), Ulises Farinas, and Seth Fisher -Whose work do you enjoy viewing now? These days, there are so many talented artists putting out amazing work: the way Ramon Villalobos communicates the mass and power of the human body, the ridiculous amount of personality Sara Alfageeh conveys in her figures, Erica Henderson's bold character designs, and Jey Odin's intense visual energy are all traits I enviously admire. Details from Artwork by Ramon Villalobos, Sara Alfageeh, Erica Henderson, Jey Odin, Conner Fawcett, Brittney Williams, Jesse Lonergan, and Sophie Campbell Aw, geez. Who else? Conner Fawcett’s lineart and colors are amazing. I’ve long been a fan of Brittney Williams, so I'm stoked to see her getting higher profile work. The silent geometry in Jesse Lonergan's Hedra is astonishing, and Sophie Campbell’s got me re-interested in the Ninja Turtles for the first time in a very long time. -You've done work on The Cowlitz Gamers’ 2nd Adventure, Gruniożerca 2 & 3, Pyronaut, and are an integral part of the Action 53 series, among other projects. Each looks stunning, and has certain qualities that seem so quintessentially you. How would you describe your aesthetic? That’s very generous, but any style I have is likely just the result of me trying to compensate for my own weaknesses. The program I studied under put a heavy emphasis on formal composition and not much on developing representational skill—which it treated as a lower form of art, a trade craft for commercial purposes. I was repulsed by that type of high horse gatekeeping then and still disdain it today. Regardless, I came out fairly confident in my use of color and space, but I didn't (and still don't) have the muscle memory or fine control needed for technical drawing. Instead of trying to hide that fact, I revel in it with hand-drawn logos, beat-up machinery, and creepy creatures. Hopefully my use of color and composition hold them together well enough to make up for my wavering hand. That said, there are a few elements in my visual vocabulary that I do tend to fall back on, for better or for worse: I like to work within a tight value key, so there's not usually a lot of difference between my darkest dark and lightest light. As a result, my line art is rarely black, but some other color from the composition. Whenever I can, I prefer to work in a root 2 rectangle (meaning the long side is equal to the diagonal of the square of the short side). Luckily, NES boxes are nearly that ratio, as are ISO paper sizes (A4, B5, etc.). Also, most of my compositions will have divisions or elements placed upon, alongside, or perpendicular to key angles or points within the format, such as the square off each side, diagonal of the whole, where those intersect, and more. I’m a total sucker for breaking things out of the borders of a composition, like the Doctor's arms or Blue's smoke trail in the Project Blue cover. -What was the evolution of your signature style? The visual complexity of my drawings has increased with my confidence—not that I feel like I draw much better now, but I'm way less critical of my work than I was before, and am more willing to finish something, put it out there, and accept its flaws than I once was. For instance, I wouldn't have attempted the curvilinear perspective in the Project Blue cover even a year earlier. As for palette, the importance of dull, subtle colors was instilled in me in university, taught as if the aesthetic were concretely embedded in the human psyche, as a scientific fact. Despite my skepticism of the other highfalutin preachings of the program, I accepted that one with the authority it was presented, and it has been a pillar of my work ever since. Recently, I've been introduced to the idea that such an approach to color is the result of colonialism, prioritizing an aesthetic that evolved in a geographic locale with less annual sunlight over the bold colors used by cultures from the vividly sunlit areas closer to the equator. As such, I'm trying, and struggling, to bring stronger colors into my own work. Fortunately, making graphics in the notoriously saturated NES palette has been a decent transitioning element, and (as was the case with the Project Blue cover), my wife (who is also a teacher and an artist) doesn’t hesitate to call out my duller color choices while I’m working. -What tools do you use to create your art? An Obviously Staged Photograph of Some Work In Progress For larger compositions, I start with a rough draft or thumbnail before penciling and inking. Anyone who's seen my originals can tell that I'm pretty free with my inks, leaving in mistakes or redrawing lines multiple times on the same page. Since I clean them up digitally before coloring, this isn't an issue. Aside from a computer, my most useful tool is probably my lightbox, which I recently upgraded from a bulky one built from scraps to an LED one. I use it to draw over printed sketches or guides (like an isometric grid for the manual illustrations). As a result, I'm increasingly entering a digital → traditional → digital workflow, which may not be the most efficient, but I like having that physical, original lineart as a product. (And to be honest, I’m an old man who can’t use a drawing tablet very well.) Initial Cover Art Thumbnail and Digital Coloring Progress -Let's talk more about Project Blue. You worked on the cover art and manual, and were responsible for aspects of the evolution of Blue's appearance. Tell me about your creative process in developing the physical art. How did Blue evolve from Donny's original design through Ellen's spritework and your contributions? When I joined, Blue's sprite was pretty much complete. I was given a spritesheet, the following description of the character: "Jeans, denim vest, t-shirt, brown voluminous oblique fringe…” and a brief introduction to him being a street urchin up against an evil conglomerate in a cyberpunk, 80s/90s-style retro-future city. My initial takeaway from that conversation was Stand By Me meets Dark City, and submitted my first sketch. It seemed that referring to his jacket as a vest had been an accident (it was always meant to be a jacket, as is evident in his sprite). Also, Ellen aptly pointed out that as-is, my first design read more as a bad-boy supporting character instead of a protagonist. So, I started working to take him in a more innocent direction, less Secret of the Ooze footclan hideout. Early Pitch Refinement of Blue’s Illustrated Design Instead of a denim jacket, I put him in a blazer with nice ‘80s shoulder pads and rolled up Miami Vice-style sleeves. I also dropped some of the 'tude from his face and skewed Blue a little younger than previously. (I believe he’s canonically 12 or so during the events of the game.) However, before pitching the more innocent Blue, I made sure to double down on the bad-boy aspect and offer a mulleted version. Project Blue with a Mullet, aka Project Brew The three of us talked a lot about the logistics of his shooting. I wanted an action that reflected the sprite, but we didn't want any more comparisons to Battle Kid than were already being made. So, no finger gun. Also, I wanted something more original than the palm-shots of Iron Man, so I sent a sketch expanding on the surgically embedded ventilation pipes I’d been drawing him with. Initial Sketch and Final Illustration of Blue’s Shooting Mechanism in Action It was well-received, and we talked even more about what he was shooting. I think the wildest suggestion I made was some type of goop-covered calcium deposit, like a hard, solid egg (or a lemon-sized kidney stone). Eventually we settled on an undefined bio-energy, something that’s definitely the result of OmniCorp’s experimentation, not something inherent to Blue himself. One thing I find interesting with Project Blue, and this is direct praise for Ellen's art direction, is that the game is not overtly blue in color. The most prominent blue is more in the teal range (NES color $1C), and the only place that a bluer blue is used is really in the logo. I wanted to incorporate both the teal of the sprite and the stone-washed, sky blue of the logo into Blue's design to act as a bridge between these separate game components. For his t-shirt, I went with such a heavily sun-faded black that it's practically brown, and although we briefly discussed having some symbol or graphic on it, I would eventually opt for a simple orange stripe to avoid distraction and give a little saturated dash into the complementary hues within Blue's design. A Full-Color Version of Blue’s Portrait, from an Abandoned Action 53 Vol. 4 Concept Although we hadn't decided on the exact location for the game's city, we knew that it would be set in Asia. For Blue himself, I portrayed him as Afro-Asian with freckles. Having grown up in a notoriously bigoted area of the US, I saw the kind of hardships mixed race people face. Now, as part of a multicultural parenting community in Korea, I see that mixed race children, especially those with Black heritage, face similar hardships in East Asia. Also, I was surprised to find that freckles are looked down upon here to the point that many richer families subject their children to laser treatment for them. Blue's parentage would increase the difficulty he'd have as an orphan and his freckles subtly reinforce that he definitely doesn't come from a position of privilege. As for other visual elements, the butterfly stitch on his eyebrow alludes to an injury sustained when he was captured, and the ball bearing necklace (which I don't think anyone's worn since Korn could sell out a stadium) provides a visual connection to the industrial world he inhabits (and Ellen's other sprites in the game, in particular, the watchers, mines, and orbs). Detail of the Watcher from the Project Blue Cover Art Finally, I had planned to portray the headband in his sprite as a sweatband style, but when drawing the cover art, I wanted something dramatically flapping in the wind, and repurposed a necktie for it. -How do you interpret Ellen's designs, and how does it compare to other projects you've worked on? Typically, I either work from very minimalist pixel art (such as for Swords and Runes) or from my own designs like in the later Gruniożercas. Both of those tasks leave a lot of room for the imagination to run wild. Ellen's work is very detailed though, so mostly, I just draw her sprites exactly as I see them with minor functional flourishes. Project Blue Sprites and Accompanying Illustrations Sometimes I’d misinterpret part of the sprite though. In the Omnibot, I had initially drawn the forehead covering as a visor, but she informed me it was instead intended as bandaging, so I fixed it up in the redraw. Other times, I would creatively interpret elements. For instance, what I assume was just anti-aliasing around the Omnibot’s eyes became Clockwork Orange-style eyelid clips to help convey the written description Ellen provided: “two crazed and hauntingly human eyes peek out of this robotic/cybernetic construct.” Omnibot Sprite, Initial Lineart, Revised Lineart, and Final Illustration These details are less drastic than the departures I took from Ellen’s designs in the cover art. I’ve always been a fan of overly detailed box art that deviated fairly heavily from the in-game portrayals. Thanks to amazing artists such as Mark Eriksen, the NES had quite a few of these covers. But other platforms, like the Atari consoles or early home computers, were a goldmine of them. Details from Some of M-Tee’s Favorite Cover Art: Bomberman (NES)/Bomber King (MSX), Mega Man 2 (NES, US), Guardic Gaiden (FC), M.U.L.E. (NES), GUTZ (ZX Spectrum), Quest Forge (NES), Space Invaders (Atari 400/800), and Donkey Kong (Atari 2600) Despite it having aged to a point of popular mockery, I strongly believe this type of cover art enriches the gameplay experience, opening the viewer up to the idea that the world being depicted is much larger than as seen through the lens of the gameplay screen, which very well might be only one of many abstracted interpretations of it. Approaching a similar aesthetic sincerely and without irony is difficult, and I hope I achieved that here. Project Blue Cover Art Blue’s proportioned more heroically, and the Think Tank portrayed has been given a hot rod influenced makeover that prominently displayed its industrial undercarriage. For the manual though, I toned down the Doctor’s design, a stepping stone between the cover depiction and Ellen’s original spritework. The Doctor Sprite and Manual Depiction -You’ve worked with a number of different homebrewers. Is there a process for networking in this niche community? Keeping up with where the conversation is happening can be a burden. At one point in time, very different dialogs were happening on the NESDev forums and on NA. Sometimes, the NESDev IRC seemed to have more activity than the forums as well. Now, a lot of it has shifted to twitter for announcements and Discord communities for development, as forum threads are getting less and less responses. I'd say being openly passionate about the work others are doing has been key to my reception. -What was it like working with Donny and Ellen? How did you connect with them for this project? I'm pretty sure I first met Ellen on the NesDev forums and we started emailing WIP pixel art back and forth for critique. For Project Blue, she approached me, and I was introduced to Donny through her. He had liked my Pyronaut poster and was wanting something similar. They've both been great to work with. It's clear that we all three had slightly different head-canons, and we'd have these long, creative email chains where we'd work them out before combining and revising the best parts of each for the final product. Donny was more gameplay focused in his plans and whenever possible, leaned toward leaving room for the player to fill in the game world through their imagination. He was the voice of restraint which led to the clean, streamlined presentation of the game itself. Ellen clearly was the most familiar with cyberpunk literature and media, and provided the more tragic aspects to the world such as the failed experiments and omnibots both being the products of experimentation on other children. She even communicated some of these ideas through level design in rather brilliant ways. As far as I know, she also came up with the amazing pun of Think Tank and the idea that the bosses were a board of directors. With my background in education and interest in children's literature, I emphasized the contrast between Blue's innocence and the darkness of his situation while presenting the tragic elements of the world through humor in my writing. However, my biggest contribution was probably naming the boardroom directors and writing their backstories. I’m also unusually proud of how we explain the fact that each boss seems to show up twice, but is clearly destroyed each time (something we struggled with once we decided to name the bosses). The OmniCorp Boardroom Directorate, from left to right: Dr. Naomi Yoon, Madame Guang, Senator “Duke” Billingsley, and OmniCorp CEO Michael Guang -You mentioned that the print manual's visual design will differ from that of the digital version, how so? Was it a challenge to adapt your artwork to two mediums and maintain a certain parallel between them? I'm a huge supporter of the digital distribution of homebrew, so it’s important to me that download packages don’t feel like afterthoughts to physical releases. Aside from some version-specific text, the main difference in our digital manual is that it has been made to look like a fan-scan, maybe something one might have found on vimm.net in the early 2000s. Doing so required overlaying the paper texture, making sure that overlay is different on consecutive pages, showing the center staple, slightly tilting some spreads to imply inconsistency while scanning, and even simulating ink bleedthrough from the backs of pages. Thumbing Through the Digital Manual This allowed me to showcase what the manual may have looked like aged on lower grade paper, and provides the digital consumer a unique aesthetic in comparison to the crisp, clean, and new manuals that will come in the physical package. -Manuals aren't the first thing people usually associate with homebrew, but Project Blue's stands out, not only because a lot of effort was clearly put into its design, but it also looks like something that would have been printed in the 80s, with all of the artistic preferences that might come with that period. Tell me about the intentions behind the manual's visual design. At first, I was brought on to just make black and white illustrations, and Ellen or Donny would have handled the manual text and design, but there was a long time between when I joined the team and when the game reached a point that it was ready for artwork to be produced. During this wait, inspiration struck. In the US at least, cheap printing methods were usually black and white, like most NES manuals. However, 80s/90s budget printings for Asian markets typically utilized a duotone printing method, where two contrasting colors would be printed in varying densities over each other to produce a fairly unique visual depending on the colors selected. Details from an American Game Manual, Two Japanese Game Manuals, and an ‘80s Elementary School Workbook from Korea Back in ‘13 or so, I had previously attempted to imitate this method and failed. But while waiting on production of Project Blue to pick up, I saw how Arne of Androidarts did it and realized how simply it could be done. Eager to put the technique to use, I constructed a palette from the teal ($1C) and brown ($07) from the game’s most prominent subpalette, used it to make a small mock-up with one of my Cowlitz illustrations, and pitched it to Donny and Ellen for the manual. Artwork by Arne Niklas Jansson, M-Tee’s Duotone Style Pitch, and the Production Palettes of the Project Blue Operations Manual They seemed to dig it, but pulling it off would require pretty intimate familiarity with the design choices that would have been made to compensate for drawbacks in the physical printing process. For instance, original duotone publications would typically limit the use of the darkest possible colors to minimize over-saturation of the paper, and would print text in a single color of ink to avoid headache-inducing halos in the case of printing misalignment. Excited to work within these restrictions, I would later ask to handle manual design as well. -You also told me that you provided a lot of the lore-building written into the manual. How did that process unfold? Does your art guide how you build that world, or do you try to create and define that universe so it guides your art? The writing definitely guided the art. I was about 60% finished with manual illustrations when I started having difficulty deciding exactly what to draw and how to draw it. I had been given a loose list, but I didn’t want to make anything that wouldn’t get used, nor did I want to make anything that would burden Donny into shoehorning it in. (He was handling writing and manual design at the time.) Again, although (or because!) I create work for entertainment media, I feel the responsibility to address important topics. My work for the Cowlitz Gamers’ Adventures alludes to the effects of imperialism felt long after occupation, and the unpublished work I’d done on Pyronaut was heavily critical of short-term contract employment and the glorification of unsafe workplace cultures. Gruniożercas 2 and 3 were the only text-heavy works I’d put out recently though, and there’s just so much one can say about ethical pet ownership before getting repetitive. The cyberpunk genre has a long historical context for social commentary, and the world Ellen and Donny had built of a street urchin up against a mega-conglomerate seemed ripe for realworld allegories. So I was becoming more and more anxious to help flesh out that aspect of their universe. I eventually asked if I could write the manual as an in-world, OmniCorp document. Luckily, they dug that too, so I killed two birds with one stone. Now, I had a clear goal to direct the remaining illustrations and a platform to discuss the dangers of corporate lobbying, the privatization of social services, and the consequences that come with the lack of proper government oversight. Just wait until you see the company loyalty OmniCorp expects of its interns! A Page from the Project Blue Operations Manual Luckily, the promotional video for the Kickstarter campaign had already established an OmniCorp presence outside of the game. (Fun fact: Ellen managed to get the same actor who played Becky Carmichael in the video to provide the character’s signature in the manual as well). With the manual writing, I hoped to match the faux-caring voice of internal corporate memos well enough that reading it fills anyone else who’s worked for any publicly-traded corporation with the same nauseating disdain I felt working at one myself. (I may have endured six long, dark, formative years at GameStop, whose corporate voice would later become infamous from its leaked coronavirus conference call). -Given how much joy you derive from writing and world-building, have you written a standalone piece of fiction? I have a handful of illustrated short stories and comics lying around (see my pre-M-Tee art above), and I spent the last few years teaching a creative writing workshop. So, I'd love to try my own hand sometime at penning proper juvenile literature, and might one day. -Heck if you wanted to connect it to the games you work on, have you thought about novelizations of homebrews like the old Worlds of Power books? A homebrew alternative to Worlds of Power? I love it. Let's get E.C. Myers on the phone. I have a folder full of elevator pitches ready to go. -What new challenges were raised by Project Blue? What lessons did you learn that you would like to share with the people who follow in your footsteps? Project Blue was a lot of firsts for me, and they all brought their respective challenges. I already mentioned the perspective of the cover art and the visual style of the manual, but it was also the first time I’d made art for enamel pins. I was really nervous about how those would turn out. I could mockup what I thought they’d look like, but it’s not like I could do a test-print at home or anything. Although there are some things I'd do differently for my next pin, I was pleasantly surprised with how these ended up. Project Blue Enamel Pin Working for Project Blue wasn’t all firsts though. Years earlier, I’d worked on another project that incorporated the brain in a jar trope. However, I hadn’t anticipated the challenge of not getting bored after drawing a half dozen of them. I couldn’t imagine being an animator and drawing them 24 times for every second. A 2013 Brain Jar followed by a Small Pantry's Worth of Project Blue Jarred Brains -I remember you posted a series of tweets about the other projects you had on your plate, what are you jumping into next? Considering everything you've created so far, do you have a dream project that you hope to bring into existence? As of the time of writing, an opportunity for making a short Project Blue comic has come up, so I’m working on that. Afterward, I hope to finally finish up my end of Isolation for KHAN Games, and then hopefully release more games with Łukasz Kur (with whom I’ve worked on the Cowlitz Gamers’ Adventures and Gruniożerca series). Between the two of us, we've had a half dozen ideas for a fourth Gruniożerca and a couple of other projects on the table. But in the meantime, we're working on a small suite of very basic Pico-8 programs for my daughter. If they turn out okay, we’ll release them since there’s not a lot of software for infants and toddlers out there. -I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me and share your experiences. Is there anything else you would like to tell readers and fans? Just a thanks to anyone still reading after the monstrosity of self-indulgence I’ve brought to this interview. Conclusion: Thanks for tuning in to this first episode of a series that will hopefully continue and provide deep dives into promising homebrew games coming across the finish line. What are your thoughts on Project Blue and its talented development team? What homebrews are you eagerly looking forward to? Perhaps you’ll see it here soon when…A Homebrew Draws Near! Command?
  11. Hey everyone, I've launched my blog series A Homebrew Draws Near! It covers new homebrew games coming into existence, discussing its development, gameplay, and most importantly share some fun stories from the development team! In addition to its place in the blog section of VGS, this thread will share links to each entry as its made and provide announcements for newer posts. I hope you enjoy it! Episode 1: Project Blue
  12. Did you notice that all Nintendo systems coming after the N64 have their own version of Super Smash Bros? It is a shame that this (wonderful) experience is not ported to earlier systems! Super Tilt Bro. for NES is my humble attempt at filling this void. It adapts this fun and nervous gameplay to the NES and its eight buttons controller. You can freely download the ROM, play in a browser or hack the source. It now has an ONLINE mode! Short story: Wi-Fi chipset in the cart. Long story: here. To find an online opponent, join the discord. Here is an old trailer: In this topic there will be two kinds of updates: Technical highlights: small articles about technical challenges of developing Super Tilt Bro. and how they are solved. News: Less often, I may announce something big (like a new physical edition)
  13. Fixed 2 bugs in the veil engine today. Neither were apparent til I tried to use the veil engine on a project other than Janus. The first bug was in the metasprite module's initialization subroutine and it manifested by crashing the game when no metasprites were in a scene. Here is a snippet containing the issue: INVALID_METASPRITE_CHR_BANK = 255 .export __metasprites_init .proc __metasprites_init lda #0 sta updown_flag sta oam_spr_ptr lda #INVALID_METASPRITE_CHR_BNK sta __metasprites_chr_banks sta __metasprites_chr_banks + 1 sta __metasprites_chr_banks + 2 sta __metasprites_chr_banks + 3 tay loop: sta current_animation_his, y The issue above is that the loop towards the bottom of the code snippet expected the Y register to be 0 not 255. So moving the clearing of the updown_flag variable right before the TAY resolved this issue: lda #0 sta updown_flag sta oam_spr_ptr tay loop: sta current_animation_his, y The second bug showed up after I integrated some car assets for a racing game. Once I had added the sprites and animations I decided to see how they looked rendered in an emulator with my current OAM cycling algorithm. Having so many metasprites on the screen at once reliably triggered this bug after 20 seconds or so causing the game to crash and generate a core dump. The dump flagged the crash as an invalid veil lang code which is the veil engines scripting language. Here is a video of the OAM cycling in action: EZTJFrgUcAEF9Fw.mp4 The origin of this bug was me forgetting to restore the necessary PRG banks after the NMI completed. The sound driver which is updated at the end of the NMI needs to be bank-swapped in as well as whatever song and SFX are currently playing. So if the NMI interrupted game logic after that logic had already banked in what it needed, then we ran into problems. Reliably the NMI was interrupting while the game was interpreting scripts. Music data was loaded in where the game scripts should have been and the scripting engine therefore was trying to execute music data rather than a valid script and therefore the crash and core dump with the invalid veil lang code. The fix was to create 2 variables to hold shadow bank values. Then set these shadow values whenever we banked so the music driver could restore banks in the NMI. Like this: .proc __snd_update ; TODO: depending on track will be different lda #4 sta registers::VRC6_8K_PRG_R0 lda #1 sta registers::VRC6_16K_PRG_R0 soundengine_update ; fall thru ;jmp clean_up .endproc .proc clean_up ; restore banks lda registers::shadow_prg_16k sta registers::VRC6_16K_PRG_R0 lda registers::shadow_prg_8k sta registers::VRC6_8K_PRG_R0 rts .endproc Next, entry I will likely be back working on the static HUD for vertical scenes. -c
  14. Homebrew Leader Board Competition 2020 - Game 5: Troll Burner Play Period: Friday, May 1, 2020 - Sunday, May 17, 2020 Download the rom here at the bottom of the page. Order a physical cart here. Joe Granato and Austin McKinley created Troll Burner in just 8 days while returning home from PAX South in 2017. Developed as a brief, playable proof of concept to demonstrate the versatility of NESmaker, as well as an enthusiastic middle finger to its critics, Troll Burner is an action platformer where you blast some smack-talking trolls and run up a high score. Don't dawdle though because there is a time limit to add some extra difficulty (unless a burnt troll drops a time boost for you). Still not challenged enough? Okay, you only get a "Trolls Burned" end screen when you beat the game; so if you can't reach the end, you just won't cut it. Troll Burner is available from The New 8-Bit Heroes website, and a handful of carts were given out in early 2018 as prizes for various contests. But wait, you ask, there's a link above that says I can order a cart, how is that possible? Well Timmy, here's the scoop: after a little digging in the NESmaker Facebook group in search of one of those rare Troll Burner carts, I learned there is an active physical run of Troll Burner available. Infinite NES Lives sells flashable carts for use with NESmaker, however those carts are NOT blank. In order to ensure every cart works, Paul flashes Troll Burner onto every single one. Therefore purchasing an NESmaker refill cart is tantamount to purchasing a copy of Troll Burner! (I left this tidbit in my VGS Homebrew Almanac thread as an easter egg of sorts for a few months, but I'm sharing it more widely for this competition and a little earlier than usual for folks to have time to get a cart if they want) How to submit your score: 1. Scores shall be submitted by posting a picture to that month’s game thread. Screenshots of a computer screen (print screen) are not acceptable. 2. The picture must include the entire screen and have your VGS user name within the picture on a piece of paper. Username can not be added digitally to the picture. 3. Type out your score in bold on your thread post. 4. Scores must be submitted within the posted time frame. 5. Do not submit scores from previous runs. 6. Use one post for your score. You can submit as many as you like by editing your original post. You can bump the thread to announce your new score. Rules: 1. NTSC only, no PAL. This will create a level playing field and not create differences based on timing. 2. OEM, FPGA, and clone consoles are OKAY. 3. Emulators are OKAY. Play game at 100% speed. 4. No save states allowed. 5. Flashcarts (i.e. Everdrive / Power Pak) are OKAY. 6. No turbo or slow motion controllers are allowed. 7. No game genie codes. 8. Do not use glitches in the game to boost your score.
  15. As the homebrew community continues to grow, it is important to connect with devs who might not be aware of VGS and the enthusiastic market within it. And although our members span the globe, there are parts of the world where brewers may not be as aware of this forum's community and potential as a platform to promote their work. There was a thread on NA about some in-development Famicom homebrew and the effort to connect with the devs and demonstrate international interest in their games. I would like to create this thread for myself and others to bring attention to overseas homebrew and their devs. If any devs are here, announce yourself! If anyone is friends with them, bring them into the community so we can engage and support them! Below is an incomplete list of some projects that are complete or in-development and their devs, to the best of my current knowledge. Help me connect with this awesome people and promote their work, and if possible bring them here to VGS! - Mojon Twins: So Many Games! Twitter and Twitter - 87 Arts: Star Keeper Twitter - Retro X Brasil, Amaweks, Laudelino: Balaio de Jogos Twitter, Twitter, and Twitter - Impact Soft: Haradius Zero Twitter - Tulip House Games: Ilevan, Vegetablets Go Twitter - Karu_gamo: Blazing Ranger, "amazon runner", "mech game" Twitter - RIKI: Astro Ninja Man, Kira Kira Star Night DX Twitter - Moktv: Porun chan Onigiri, "sports game", "son son clone" Twitter - Kisala: Chateau Blanc Psyche Twitter - good_tune: RC2Rally, Gold Guardian GunGirl Twitter - Kannagichan: Danmaku Twitter - Retro Nerve: Kung Fu UFO Twitter - ITG: Cross-Strait Independence - PSCD: Foxy Land, Debtor, Bio Evil Twitter
  16. gauauu


    I've posted about this on Twitter a lot, but since I've never made a thread on NA....here's my current project. With art from Frankengraphics, Halcyon is a large metroidvania adventure that's supposed to be sort of a mash-up of concepts from Metroid and Blaster Master. We've been slowly working on this for about 2 years now, hopefully it will be done some time next year. You can follow along on twitter or occasional longer posts on my blog.
  17. Homebrews in Focus - 001 Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) Looking at how Minesweeper was finally brought to the Nintendo and what its development was like. Let's take a dive into this homebrew game that is much more than a port of a computer classic, but a game that stands on its own. The mine detection and disarming puzzle logic game, Unexploded Ordnance. [Regular Edition, Special Edition Cart in NES Front Loader] Contents: 1. Intro 2. Origins 3. Minesweeper The Game 4. UXO Development 5. UXO The Game 6. Review 7. Interviews 1. Intro Minesweeper for the NES! I mean Unexploded Ordnance. Luckily its acronym caught on and it is almost universally referred to as UXO. You may be thinking why a homebrew computer port? Well actually, the Nintendo had its fair share of computer ports, over a hundred in fact[1]. The ones that may come to mind might be the early RPGs, like Ultima, Wizardry, or The Bard’s Tale. Or you might recall text adventure games, like Maniac Mansion, Deja Vu, or Shadowgate. However, one category that did not get enough ports was logic puzzles. Sure, we got Tetris and Pipe Dream, but overall I think we missed out, especially with some of the “classic” windows games. I like to think that is why Neodolphino Productions stepped in as a homebrew developer with a mission to bring this genre to the Nintendo. Freecell and Minesweeper are checked off that list. Can we expect Golf or Jezzball in the future… perhaps a downward skier? I think we lucked out. Out of all the Windows Entertainment Pack games that could have gotten ported, the team picked the game that ultimately became UXO to develop and release. UXO, at its core, is fundamentally Minesweeper. It does add some unique things and improvements on top of that Minesweeper foundation, but we will get into that later. Before we do, I think it is important to go back to the source material and talk about the history and impact of Minesweeper. 2. Origins In concept Minesweeper has some origins in the 1970s with Jerimac Ratliff's Cube, a game for mainframe computers, but more directly with Relentless Logic . There were other mine and bomb games between, but Relentless Logic, released for DOS in 1985, was more or less the predecessor to Minesweeper. It was a mine detection puzzle game played on a grid. It was eventually cloned and released on the O/S2, an early GUI operating system by IBM and Microsoft. [Relentless logic 1985] Eventually that clone became Minesweeper. The source code of that O/S2 clone game, with the creator’s permission, was used to develop a minesweeping game for Windows (WinMine), which became known as Minesweeper at release in 1990 on Windows 3.0 with the Microsoft Entertainment Pack 1. Microsoft needed to boost the appeal of the operating system going forward. They saw that Minesweeper could offer them something. With the release of Windows 3.1, Minesweeper became standard with the operating system. Since then, Minesweeper has more or less remained the same game. [Minesweeper 1990] 3. Minesweeper The Game You start the play session with a blank grid of covered tiles. You can start on beginner mode, 9x9 grid, intermediate mode, 16x16 grid, expert mode, 30x16 grid, or custom mode, where you can set the grid size and number on mines. You are presented with a top status bar of number of remaining mines, an avatar (a smiley face that changes based on your actions), and a time elapsed counter. You are given puzzle clues while flipping tiles over and your goal is to uncover all the “safe” tiles, leaving the mines covered and more importantly unexploded. (Nudge nudge, your unexploded ordnance….I couldn't resist. Please forgive). [Minesweeper in Windows 3.1, Gif Credit: Iain Mew - Medium] How deep the challenge and skill goes reminds me a lot of the community scene around Tetris. Just like Tetris, there is a large competition and community behind the game with advanced strategies, legendary players, and world records. With the minesweeper backstory out of the way, let’s get into the nitty gritty of UXO. 4. UXO Development Team: Production - Neodolphino Productions [Justin Orenich - @neodolphino] Programming - Fg Soft [Antoine Fantys - @Vectrex28] Graphics - Fg Soft [Antoine Fantys - @Vectrex28] Music - Bleep Bop Records [Thomas Ragonnet - @zi] Theme Design - Retrojan Designs [Eric.of.Troy Eichelberger] Testing: Matt Beppler, E.B.D. Holland ( @SoleGoose ) [Limited Edition release pictured above] Released: Two editions of UXO were released in 2016. A limited edition (LE), pictured above, and regular edition (RE), pictured at top of article. The limited edition included a camo painted metal case with a complete in box copy of the game, letter, land mine technical manual, ID badge, USB on dog tags, Charms candy, and a toy metal detector. There were 25 limited editions made and sold out soon after initial offering. The regular edition included a complete in box copy of the game with randomized special edition cart (landmine and counter inside shell). 5. UXO The Game [Left - UXO title screen, Right-Easy difficulty gameplay GIF] So back to Unexploded Ordnance for the Nintendo. Justin from Neodolphino worked with programmer Antoine and musician Thomas to bring his concept to realization. The team implemented a series of improvements and unique features to the project, making the game fitting for a console release. Looking back at Minesweeper, besides the tile graphic of a mine, there isn’t really anything that leans into the theme of a person tasked with a mission to recover unexploded mines. That is the kind of mission that would be tasked by a trained elite military ground trooper. However, there are no such elements apparent in Microsoft’s Minesweeper. No military graphics, no fitting music, nor rewards to come with the successful mission as a person risking their life in the line of duty. Even the face you see on screen reacting to your inputs is a nondescript face. UXO corrects these issues on the console with a more fitting and surrounding world. You have a selection of camo themes to choose from, several military themed music tracks, a soldier avatar replaces that smiley face one, and for your success, a medal of valor is your reward. In addition, you have a scoreboard to best your own times and a secret minigame. [Left - Theme options, Right-Medal of Valor] [Avatar reactions] To get deeper into the gameplay, it plays much like Minesweeper. You pick your difficulty, which dictates the grid size and number of mines, and you are off to mine detection. Your goals are the same as we discussed above in Minesweeper. Uncover all the safe tiles while leaving the mines behind, unexploded. You flip the tiles with the A button and mark the suspected mines with a Flag by pressing the B button. As you uncover the safe areas, you are presented with tiles that have numbers on them. The number indicates how many mines are touching the tile in the eight directions around it. This varies in difficulty and complexity with the grid szie and number of mines. Easy, 9x9 with 10 mines Medium, 16x16 with 40 mines Hard, 30x16 with 99 mines This is where the logic puzzle comes into play. You use these numbers in combination with other numbered tiles you uncovered in the play field to figure out the puzzle. You either avoid the mines or you can “flag” them. The flag is for you to mark it and keep track of where you believe the mines are. Once all the safe tiles are flipped, leaving only unexploded mines remaining, you win the round. The draw of the game is that logic puzzle aspect. As you become proficient in it, you increase the difficulty by increasing the number of mines and grid size. As you do this, the complexity ramps up and is no longer a fly by the seat of your pants kind of game. [Play through of Easy and Medium difficulty boards with light commentary] 6. Review Well is it enjoyable?? I certainly think so. If you like Minesweeper, you will enjoy it. If the world of Minesweeper never drew you in, perhaps the improvements and surrounding world that the UXO team implemented will draw you in. Those improvements and additions really correct what was missing from its computer classic origins. Out of the options available to you, my preferred presets are Navy theme and Music type B and I hope you like them to because that is what I use in the play through video above, hahaha. Besides the enjoyment factor, two questions may come to mind for someone who has not played UXO before. The controls, switching from a mouse to a D-pad, and the cost. I got used to the d-pad very quickly. You are not controlling a mouse pointer on screen, that would have not been successful in my opinion. The position is fixed to the grid. One d-pad press, moves one grid tile. Holding the d-pad, moves the position faster. Antoine got this right. It never feels tedious or as if you are not in control. As far as worth it, the cost of ownership of the regular edition is lower than most homebrews. $35 for a CIB game. Very affordable compared to the more or less standard $60. Much like Tetris, many hours of entertainment can be had many times over. 7. Interviews Now that we got the history, the game play, and my opinions out of the way, it is a good time to talk with the development team. What are things to clue us into how they got from concept to completion, what tools did they use, and what problems did they encounter along the way. Neodolphino Productions Chris: Before we get into UXO and its development, I was wondering about the origins of Neodolphino Productions. You have been in the NES homebrew scene for a number of years now. Whether it has been showcasing homebrews on convention tours or developing your own games. What drove you to become this involved and not just a fan and player of the games? Justin: I originally became involved in the homebrew community in 2013, after discovering the KHAN Games ( @KHAN Games ) release of Study Hall – a fantastic, original homebrew game. This sort of launched me off into the deep end of NES homebrew. It started with avid (or perhaps rabid) collecting, but eventually a desire to do a bit more developed. I did do some beta testing, which was great, but that also wasn’t enough. I was in medical school at the time, and as many others have said, I just didn’t feel like I had the time or background to program my own game. I did, however, have small chunks of time I could devote to learn more about how the games were made, and decided I wanted to work on a project where I could learn to build carts, and get a bit creative with putting them out. I then had the opportunity to inexpensively buy the rights for a very small, and extremely simple game – 1007 Bolts, released by Nemesis (the original version is available to place in Action 53 vol 2). I used this opportunity to have some modest improvements made to the game with the help of Memblers ( @Memblers ), and then produce a small, but pretty cool LE release. A good chunk of the profit went to NintendoAge, and the rest pretty much went back into feeding my homebrew collecting habit, and the development of UXO. I learned a lot (and made many mistakes) about making carts from donors, and making a simple NROM multi-cart (thanks to a tutorial by Callan Brown). Chris: Did you have any inspirations as far as developers or games, either during the licensed era or in the homebrew era? Justin: Aside from my obvious pilfering of the Kojima Productions FOX logo for my own, I’d say – regarding homebrew – that pretty much anyone who takes the time to build a NES game from scratch and put it out there Is a huge inspiration to me. Chris: So let's look at Unexploded Ordnance, what was the inspiration or drive to bring Minesweeper to the Nintendo? It seems like there is a pattern here with the release of Free Cell as well? Are you working on a larger project or theme with these titles? Justin: I guess overall it seemed like a relatively simple game that hadn’t been ported to the system yet. From this though, grew the idea to release a “Entertainment Pack” of sorts for the NES. This vision led to the production of Freecell and was eventually going to spawn another game or two in the same vein. I wanted to release them all together on a cartridge, modeled after the Microsoft Entertainment Pack. This eventually evolved into me wanting to dabble in Famicom Disk System development – and I had a plan to release a 2 disk compilation. This would have 2 games per disk (one on each side), or 3 games total, with a side of one disk reserved for a faux operating system for the NES. This eventually snowballed into me commissioning Vi Grey to build an actual operating system for the NES – the NEoS, as it is now called. There are plans for it to support the SNES/Hyperkin mouse, the Family Basic Famicom Keyboard (and hopefully USB mouse/keyboard), tape deck storage, possibly the Famicom Disk System, and several other things. It will be intended to be modable/hackable, and will hopefully lead to more development and evolution by the community. There is no release date/plan at this time. Chris: That's a great backstory and what the larger project is, is very exciting. Let's take a look at the team. You had a pretty stacked team on this project. Antoine (Vectrex 28 / FG Soft) and Thomas (Zi / Bleep Bop Records) both of which have been on many projects with great success. How did the three of you come together for UXO? Was the game development process collaborative or was there a clear divide in tasks on the project? Justin: I approached Antione with the project, and he seemed interested. He was well known for being able to pump out quick, efficient, and solid games, and pretty much took my ideas and ran with it. Thomas was working on music for a few different homebrew projects and was looking for more work on the side. He was very eager to join. Everyone pretty much worked in their own silos, and it just kind of came together with occasional input/direction from me. It was a great experience. Chris: That came together nicely. What about the theme to UXO? Looking at what is shown in the game, It leans into military aspects, ones that would come with being tasked with mine detection and removal (also highlighted in the trailer for the game). These themed elements worked great and added what was sorely lacking with Minesweeper. How did these aspects become part of UXO? Justin: Mostly from my military background – no I was not in EOD, but the concept came pretty naturally, and was an easy way to let it be Minesweeper, without directly calling it Minesweeper. It also let me and Eric come up with a fun little backstory to go along with the game. Of course you could just make a port, but what fun would that have been? I don’t know that many people really read into it much, but I hope they did. Chris: What about the development, what did it look like? Was there a schedule of milestones and deadlines? Were there challenges that you did not expect? Any lessons learned during the process that you want to pass on to aspirating homebrew developers? Justin: There really weren’t any specific deadlines. I kind just presented the ideas, would ask what was and wasn’t possible, and the programming came along. Same kind of goes with the music. I listened to what Thomas had, suggested some tweaks, and also gave some examples/descriptions on what I was looking for. Rinse and repeat again, for what Eric put together. I had a lot of ideas, but he really made the material shine. There were really no big challenges that stick out in my mind, other than the logistics of making the LEs carts an ammo cans. Drilling the holes for the mines, and finding the optimal locations for them. Dealing with pain peeling/flaking, making 20 something cans look different/unique, but still cool. That kind of stuff. Other than that, was maybe making a few too many copies up front. Chris: What about the physical aspect of the project? I.e. boxes, manuals, shells, labels, PCBs, etc. How did you go about the sourcing of art and materials? Similar to the above, were there challenges and lessons learned? Justin: I leaned pretty heavily on Eric for the sourcing of boxes, manuals, and labels. He, again, did a great job on that front. As for shells, I loved the shells that Beau from SoleGoose Productions was using, and decided to get some of those. The PCBs I got from Second Dimension, as it was a simple NROM game/board, and they had outstanding prices. The stuff to populate the boards (EPROMs, etc) came from what was cheapest, but seemed quality on E-Bay. Chris: One of the end products was a limited edition, which was something special. CIB, letter, land mine technical manual, ID badge, USB on dog tags, charms candy, and a toy metal detector, all packed in a camo painted metal box. How did you come up with the package idea? It also seems like a ton of work. Did you enjoy making these packages? Justin: Once again, it mostly came from my military background. I thought it would really be fun to make up a little package to sort of play along with the plot/theme of the game. It certainly was a lot of work, but was extremely fun, and I felt like it was delivering something that the homebrew community hadn’t seen before. I am aware that I don’t produce the most advanced, or original games, but one thing a really pride myself on, is the uniqueness, quality and presentation of the LE (and still to some extent, the regular editions as well). Chris: That is very true. Your special editions have been unique and top quality. You don’t really see special editions to this caliber anymore. Why do you think that is? Do you think there is still a market for them? Justin: I just think there isn’t a huge market for them anymore. The effort and cost seem to outweigh the benefit in many instances (unless you are just doing it for the heck of it). The collecting scene has changed a lot over the past few years. There are now many more people buying homebrew, but fewer willing to shell out large amounts for them. Making enough LEs to satisfy demand, that will sell at a price to justify them being made is very difficult. It’s hard enough to make a game, let alone devote a lot of money and resources to make the release of it elaborate. Also, these things tend to take up space, and it may not be desirable to have tons of elaborate LEs taking up valuable space in a collection. Chris: So lets dive into a component of what's in the game. And I don’t want to give too much away or give a how-to of how you access it, but there is a secret mini game within UXO. I am going to include a clip of the mini game in the article's video, an on rails side scrolling jumping game. Did you know that a mini-game made its way into the final game? Or did you and Antoine work on it together? Justin: I certainly was aware it made it into the game, and greatly encouraged it. I can’t recall if it was my idea to put a hidden game in, but it was certainly Antione’s idea for the gameplay/design (which is pretty obvious from the scrolly message… haha). The secret is able to be accessed by gameplay, but there are also a couple of interesting places the code can be found. One has to do with the insurance letter included in the LE, and the other one can only be found by taking something from the release apart – which would likely ruin it. That’s all I’ll say about that. Also of interest, is that there is a mini game hidden in Freecell as well! Chris: Stepping back to the present, UXO has been out for a while now. Are you happy with the release? Do you think it was successful? Anything you would change about either the development, the game, or the release? Justin: Overall I’m happy with the release. I think we had fun and succeeded in trying to make a Minesweeper that was a bit more than Minesweeper. I feel it was generally successful in retrospect, for what it is, but I do wish I would have sold out of all of my stock. That would be about all I would change – not making so many up front (which is one of the things that makes Kickstarter so appealing – you know almost exactly how much you have to make to supply the demand). Chris: Sounds like UXO still available for purchase. Which editions and where can someone order a copy? Justin: I have a box of regular edition copies sitting in my attic, that I suppose are available for purchase, but there isn’t a specific place they are listed for sale. I guess if someone would like one, they could always reach me in Videogamesage (user name is @neodolphino), or e-mail me at neodolphino@hotmail.com. Chris: Anything you want to leave the readers with before we close the interview? Advice? What homebrews are you looking towards? Or what to expect from Neodolphino in the future? Justin: I guess just please keep supporting NES homebrew (heck, all homebrew for that matter)! It’s a great community, filled with all sorts of ingenuity. Every time you think the system has reached its limit, something new and exciting comes along. As for upcoming homebrew, I’m really looking forward to Full Quiet by the Retrotainment guys. I also can’t wait to see the NES side of development on Orange Island by Ted Sterchi. There is also a lot of buzz about internet support for the NES, which has been elusive for years, but finally seems like it may be within practical reach. As far as Neodolphino Productions, keep an eye out for NEoS, as well as some US localizations of Japanese homebrew games that have come out recently! Fg Soft Chris: Speaking with Justin, he had a lot of praise for you and your work. Saying you produced solid and efficient games fast. I can understand why he approached you with the UXO project. What made you want to join the project and work with Justin? Antoine: I thought UXO would be a fun, smoothgoing small project. I knew Justin a bit already and I knew he was a good chap, so I ended up rolling with it. Getting a copy of Panic Restaurant as a reward might'e helped things a little, too Chris: What was it like working with Justin? And Thomas as well? Antoine: Justin was pretty smooth to work with. While the records I would've had checked (our UXO private thread on the late nintendoage.com) are sadly not available anymore because of a certain someone I won't name, what I can remember is that Justin and Thomas were very fun to work with, and the atmosphere was very relaxed. I'm actually getting the same vibe with my current NES commission, Eyra the Crow Maiden, and a relaxed environment like the one I got in UXO is a plus for me when joining any NES dev project. Chris: Talking with Justin, I got the impression that the three of you divided the responsibilities and mostly worked independently. Do you prefer to work like that or do you enjoy a more collaborative team project? Antoine: I do like having freedom to work by myself, but on a team project, collaboration is necessary. I'd like to especially thank our tester mattbep who went above and beyond when testing UXO! Having someone else test your game is the biggest plus of any group project IMO. Chris: Very true, collaboration is necessary even when responsibilities are divided. In the larger context, lets look at the NES development scene. From the outside looking in, out of all the aspects that it takes to develop and release a homebrew, it seems that the strongest community is for programming. You can go on NESdev, VGS, or on the discord Brewery section and it mostly discussing and sharing programming tips, tricks, and questions. Do you agree? Does that community drive you to keep working and becoming a better programmer? Do you lean on others for help figuring out a problem? Antoine: I think every programming community fits a certain niche of programming. VGS (formerly NintendoAge) I feel is mostly for people wanting to release games and wanting to learn 6502 (I'm looking at the Nerdy Nights in particular, which used to be hosted on Nintendoage.com), whereas the VGS Discord is more of a casual place for discussion amongst fellow NES devs, and NESdev being the main hub for the more technical side of the hobby, so each place I feel has a very specific purpose in the NES world. I do think the community as a whole is helpful to newcomers, and has been helpful to me in the past, even though I like to challenge myself to solve my coderelated problems by myself. Chris: You made a name for yourself doing many tech demos and made your way into full games. What drove you to make NES games? Antoine: As a kid, I always had a fascination with retro gaming. The NES was my favourite console, but at first I never thought I'd make actual games for it. However, when I found a Commodore 64, through the builtin BASIC I found out that you could actually make games for those old machines, and that people were still making them! So the NES being my favourite console, I eventually did the Nerdy Nights and started making games for it Chris: Very cool. So you went with it and now you are making games. What was the development of UXO like? What tools did you use? Antoine: As I said before, development went pretty smoothly. I used the usual tools Notepad for the code, TileMolester for the graphics, and Famitone2 for Thomas's music. Chris: What about challenges, did UXO present new challenges for you? Antoine: I think the biggest challenge was figuring out the positions of the mines adjacent to a certain square. I tried calculating them in real time as you uncovered the squares, but I found out that it was much more efficient to precalculate them beforehand, which is what I ended up doing Chris: What about taking the controls from what would typically be a mouse for minesweeper, to a d-pad for UXO? (BTW, I think you nailed it. I never miss not having a mouse in UXO. The movement is never slow or tedious and you are never not in control). Was that something that came easy or did it take a lot of adjustment? Antoine: The controls came out great mostly thanks to mattbep, who seemed to be very wellversed in Minesweeper. He actually taught me a thing or two about the game, and that made me become muchbetter at it hehe. Chris: Let's take a look at graphics. I am assuming you did the graphics for the game as well. You have a certain style that you carry through many of your games. What tools do you use and what was that development like? Antoine: I did all of the graphics myself, in TileMolester, yes. Graphics is probably my favourite aspect of retro game development, so much so that I'm sometimes just doing art pieces for old computers such as the C64, Speccy, Amstrad, MSX, etc. My style is very much inspired from the games made for those old micros, and I often get that my games have an Amigaish or Spectrumish vibe, which I believe is very true. Being European helps in that regard, too... Chris: Diving deeper than what is front and center in the game, there is a secret mini-game within UXO. Pretty well hidden. Tell us about your thoughts behind the mini-game. Antoine: That was Justin's idea I believe. I think it's a fun little easter egg. The game itself is nothing special imo, but it has its charm. I liked making it. Chris: I am thinking you often put secrets in your games. Is that true? What makes you do that? Antoine: I do put easter eggs in my games, usually for cheating purposes, but it's also a good excuse to add a silly little scrolltext to the game, again going back to European microcomputer games and demos. Chris: So looking back on the project, are you happy with the end product? Anything you would do differently now? Antoine: For the time I think it was pretty good. If I could go back to it, I'd update the graphics a notch since I've gotten better since (though to be fair a Minesweeper game does not really need very fancy graphics does it :P), and I'd also try adding a questionmark tile to the game (you can only add flags on the tiles). Chris: What about the catalogue of the rest of your games, what are you most proud of? Antoine: That's a very good question... I feel like every game I've released was a stepping stone to the next level. I don't think I have a favourite release, though I suspect Space Soviets would fit that once it's released as I have yet to release a full, largescale production. Chris: Anything you want to leave the readers with before we close the interview? Advice? What homebrews are you looking towards? Or what to expect from Fg Soft in the future? Antoine: My words to anyone reading this are: Keep the NES alive! The homebrew scene is great and without passionate NES fans' support it wouldn't be where it is today. Stay awesome!!! Bleep Bop Records Chris: Looking at the past years, you have gone all in on NES chip tune music. You have four NES music albums, music tracks on many games, and convention appearances. Also you are always on the lookout for more projects. What drew you to this style and medium of music production? Thomas: First of all, please call me Tom. Or Admiral Tom. Whatever sounds the least formal whilst giving an air of playful reverence. Is this... are you printing this? Oh no. Okay ignore what I just said. Look, right from the jump I want you to know I never edit myself in an interview. Also, you've put on a few pounds. As a friend, I'm telling you this. And are you using whitening toothpaste or... okay. So, yes. I make chip tune music. Why? It's a long story of music practice, appreciation, and an interest in computer science. And it's a great mix of punk and classical. Everything is a mix of classical, I guess, except those prog-rock bastards. Ugh, right? Abhorrent. Chris: Okay, Tom it is. How do you go about the composing and production of your music? What tools do you use? Give us an example of your typical working day. Tom: I'm a Famitracker guy- using a Mac, so right off the bat things are needlessly complex. Running Parallels, Windows 10, I work with FT, and not the ghost version, which has some nice features, but once you have your shortcuts set it's tough to move to anything else. I really want Famistudio to work, but I'm having problems with the UI and am patiently waiting for clearer documentation. As far as workflow, sometimes it's playing songs on the piano and recording live or using LogicPro to capture an idea- then working out the rough song in FT. Then there's an instrument pass, a clearer definition of intro/verse/sub-chorus/verse/sub-chorus/chorus/bridge/verse/chorus-outro (that part takes the longest). Sometimes I get stuck, hell, a lot of the time I get stuck, so I return to a different medium and mess around with chords or melodies, or move to a different song and work on the minute details like mastering, reverb, effects, transitions, etc. Chris: Do you find the restrictions for music on the NES to be stifling or to be empowering for your creativity? Tom: A little of both- it's annoying to want a second line to fill in a little of the chord for the melody and that runs over the atmospheric arpeggio or runs- but at the same time you can drive yourself mad with arranging when there are no restrictions. Chris: I can agree with that. There is a fine balance of freedom and restrictions in great creativity. Looking at how to begin composing, I recall an interview with Rob Bryant on the NES Assembly line, where he stated sometimes he just picks a random note to start the music with, and goes with that for his creative process. As an outsider, that was a little shocking. Do you have some of your own tricks to get the ball moving creatively wise? Tom: That is categorically insane. Everyone knows you smash down all the keys on a piano and then listen... hear it? The key, even the melody, it's right there. And, like a good woodcarver, you chip away the notes you don't need and then you're left with a song. I do, however, try not to settle into Cmaj or Amin for every song and try to make the conscious effort to explore other keys and modes. If you get stuck, music theory always helps- it's a functional tool that can assist in exploring interesting emotional turns in a song. Keep a tape recorder/phone close when you're playing, you never know when inspiration strikes. Chris: Hahah, I hear it now. Let's look closer at the topic at hand, how did you approach UXO as a project? Where did you look for inspiration or generally what was the process like for this particular project? Tom: I think I assumed I was on the project and told whats-his-face as much. You know, the dolphin kid. I'd give you my specific notes but I don't think I'm allowed on the old gaming site. I worked together on a few other projects with Vex and Justin and this time they wanted to port the windows game suite - starting with minesweeper. The original didn't have a soundtrack and Justin suggested a few different feels- I think that's all I got. Nothing specific, just different sounds like NES Tetris. Chris: So you made your way on to the team and now it is complete and released for several years. How did you feel about the project overall? Was the development smooth or were their challenges? Tom: There was nothing atypical about the project. Most of these are small groups who trust each other to work in their specific departments. I don't mind notes and made a few changes as we progressed. I knew they were planning for some palette options so I tried to do the same thing with the music (sand, ice, dark). I think after I turned in intro, 3 songs, and mission accomplished, Justin asked for a chill track. I was also told my "chill" was not chill. What can I say, it's tough to go under 180BMP! Chris: Anything you would do differently looking back now? Tom: I just listened to it and want to change so much. The intro should have drops at the end of some of those phrases and I'm not happy about the drum mix. I LOVE the ice and chill track- and am happy to hear I took instruments and styles from all the levels and incorporated them into the last track "mission accomplished." Chris: Stepping away from UXO to look at your larger work, do you feel there are any aspects to your music that only you do that might be called your signature? Tom: I think each album I have a through-line or vibe- there's a lot of change from (my second album) Fie to (unreleased) the Quiet Album, in tone, complexity, length. In Four, I only used the four duty cycles as instruments and the rest is effects and volume control stuff. I like the grittiness of that album but still love the pop vibe of Fie. Thornby turned out to be an entire album where songs rolled into each other (I hope) seamlessly. Chris: Someone once made a comment about your series of work that really stood out. They said that you have released your chiptune albums in reverse order, starting with your latest work and then publishing your earlier work. Is this true? What was the reasoning behind that decision and how do you feel this presents you as an artist to your audience? Tom: I think that's right. It took a second to figure out how to get these things on carts, but with the help of the immortal Khan Games ( @KHAN Games ) and production support from a whole bunch of folks, from INL ( @infiniteneslives ) to Sole Goose ( @SoleGoose ) and Memblers ( @Memblers ), I've gotten my music on carts out there. The decision was functional, as Silicon Statue was my fifth album but first on cartridge. I was very invested in Silicon Statue so it made sense for me to keep pushing and use it as the experiment to get it to cartridge. Chris: Which of your works are you most proud of? Tom: That's rough. It depends on so much, and changes. There's a year where I didn't listen to Thornby and then one night I was doing mindless work and put it on and loved it! Chris: Taking a look at projects that you have announced or that fans hope will get a release, can you tell us more about the development of the compilation album? What about plans to release Fie and Level Zero on cartridge? Tom: The compilation album now has a name! "Retro Artists of the Future, Vol 1." I think the virus messed up some of the deadlines, but we're slowly moving forward. I recruited 14-16 able-bodied chiptune musicians and the amazing Tyler Barnes to program the cart. Right now we have 4-5 songs and I'm chasing down folks to get a definitive commitment. No matter the length, it's about time Bleep Bop Records produced songs more than just me! This summer I transcribed Fie from PPMCK to FamiTracker- which was sorta a nightmare but also fun, and am in NESST right now trying to make the album cover into its cool on-screen version. Look for Fie (on cart) in the fall. Chris: Is there another artist in the homebrew scene that you admire their work? Or an up and coming artist that you are paying attention to? Tom: Some of the folks that worked on the comp album were so creative and really pulled a meaty sound out of the chipset - Veridian, MiniMacro Sound, Raftonaut ( @Raftronaut ), and Tyler Barnes ( @TylerBarnes ) (who goes by Tyler Barnes). Follow em on Twitter! Chris: What about any dream projects you hope that you get to work on? Tom: Anything from Khan Games ( @KHAN Games ). I like working with first timers, as I do some Beta testing as well, and don't mind a longer timetable. I'm waiting on some MegaCat projects as well! Chris: Anything you want to leave the readers with before we close the interview? Advice? What homebrews are you looking towards? Or what to expect from Bleep Bop Records in the future? Tom: Create. You literally have one job on this planet- create. Art, relationships, hope, whatever. Create. Also, it's okay to say screw it, I'm going to try and play a game or two- there's more than just the music! There you have it UXO. Its origins, development, and more. Thanks for tuning in and see you for the next episode.
  18. gauauu

    Anguna Zero

    I'm almost finished with Anguna Zero, a NES port of my Atari port of my Gameboy Advance game Anguna. It's a fairly direct port from the Atari, so it features the world, enemies, and layout of the Atari game, with improved graphics, and music from Thomas Cippolone. The game is mostly finished, and we're doing testing now. Hopefully will be released soon!
  19. In Queue to Kickstart: Currently Kickstarting: In Progress: -Dungeons & Doomknights, Artix Entertainment, LLC, Kickstarter (NESmaker) Last Update: 4/1/2020, Link Original Campaign: Link -Eyra: The Crow Maiden, Second Dimension R&T, LLC, Kickstarter Last Update: 4/17/2020, Link Original Campaign: Link -Flea!, Alastair Low, Kickstarter (NESmaker) Last Update: 4/4/2020, Link Original Campaign: Link -Full Quiet, Retrotainment Games, Kickstarter Last Update: 4/2/2020, Link Original Campaign: Link -Gamer Quest, Rob McCallum, Kickstarter (NESmaker) Last Update: 4/27/2020, Link Original Campaign: Link -Jeffrey Wittenhagen's Black Box Challenge (re-release), Jeffrey Wittenhagen, Kickstarter Last update: 4/16/2020 Link Original Campaign: Link -Jim Power, Piko Interactive, Kickstarter Last Update: 4/14/2020, Link Original Campaign: Link -Mystic Searches, Joe Granato, Kickstarter (NESmaker) Last Update: 12/13/2019, Link Original Campaign: Link -Orange Island, Ted Sterchi, Kickstarter Last Update: 4/9/2020, Link Original Campaign: Link -Ploid, NAPE GAMES, Kickstarter (NESmaker) Last Update: 3/20/2020, Link Original Campaign: Link -Project Blue, toggleSwitch, Kickstarter Last Update: 4/7/2020, Link Original Campaign: Link -Rollie, Optovania, Kickstarter Last Update: 4/25/2020, Link Original Campaign: Link -Soko Banana, Flip For Fate, Kickstarter (NESmaker) Last Update: 4/14/2020, Link Original Campaign: Link -Sydney Hunter and the Caverns of Death, John Lester, Kickstarter Last Update: 3/6/2020, Link Original Campaign: Link -Trophy, E.B.D. Holland, Kickstarter Last Update: 4/22/2020, Link Original Campaign: Link -Wart Worm Wingding!, John Vanderhoef, Kickstarter (NESmaker) Last Update: 4/2/2020, Link Original Campaign: Link Completed and Shipped:-Alfonzo's Arctic Adventure, Tomas Guinan, Kickstarter Completion Update: 3/10/19, Link Original Campaign: Link -Candelabra Estoscerro, Kevin, Kickstarter Completion Update: 1/5/2020, Link Original Campaign: Link -Eskimo Bob: Starring Alfonzo, Tomas Guinan, Kickstarter Completion Update: 10/5/17, Link Original Campaign: Link -Family Picross, Second Dimension R&T, LLC, Kickstarter Completion Update: 6/11/19, Link Original Campaign: Link -Haunted Halloween '86: The Curse of Possum Hollow, Retrotainment, Kickstarter Completion Update: 12/10/16, Link Original Campaign: Link -Jeffrey Wittenhagen's Black Box Challenge, Jeffrey Wittenhagen, Kickstarter Completion Update: 9/5/17, Link Original Campaign: Link -Lizard, Brad Smith, Kickstarter Completion Update: 3/7/18, Link Original Campaign: Link -Log Jammers, Mega Cat Studios, Kickstarter Completion Update: 11/23/18, Link Original Campaign: Link -Micro Mages, Morphcat Games, Kickstarter Completion Update: 9/19/19, Link Original Campaign: Link -Nebs 'n Debs, Chris Cacciatore, Kickstarter Completion Update: 2/14/19, Link Original Campaign: Link -NEScape!, Kevin Hanley, Kickstarter Completion Update: 9/3/19, Link Original Campaign: Link -Ninja I & II-, Sergio Elisondo, Kickstarter Completion Update: 6/18/18, Link Original Campaign: Link -Sir Abadol Remastered, Bonus phase, Verkami Completion Update: 3/11/2017, Link Original Campaign: Link -Spook-o'-tron, E.B.D. Holland, Kickstarter Completion Update: 7/12/2019, Link Original Campaign: Link -Super Russian Roulette, Batsly Adams, Kickstarter Completion Update: 7/3/2017, Link Original Campaign: Link -Sir UWOL, Bonus phase, Verkami Completion Update: 3/11/2017, Link Original Campaign: Link -Tower Defense 1990, Ryan Lloyd, Kickstarter Completion Update: 5/11/2018, Link Original Campaign: Link -Twin Dragons, Antoine GOHIN, Kickstarter Completion Update: 3/22/2018, Link Original Campaign: Link
  20. For all the homebrew we've seen come out for the NES, the SNES homebrew scene generally hasn't been as robust. But in the past week, two announcements have been made teasing new SNES homebrew development tools. First, Retro Game Builder posted this tweet to announce their upcoming Kickstarter: And a few days later, the New 8-Bit Hero himself Joe Granato posted this video announcing his upcoming rollout of SNESmaker: I'll be curious to see what games come from these tools, but it's fascinating to see this development for 16-bit homebrew. What are everyone's thoughts on either or both announcements? Anyone thinking of backing one, the other, or both?
  21. The Homebrew Team and Staff are excited to announce the VGS debut of Homebrew Charms and the Homebrew Database! Firstly, let's talk about the database. The database is active now, but it is still in its infancy. We have tested it, and entered some NES homebrew entries into it, but this will need to be a community effort. Take a look at it. Give us some feedback, both as the user and as the member entering data into it. Make sure to enter as much data as you can. Each entry has more data then what is shown on the list view. Click one of the examples like ShmupSpeed or Neb's n' Debs to see what we are talking about. There is also a section per entry to comment and review each homebrew. Next the Homebrew Charms. We have a series of charms now available, see the list below. There are ones for both homebrew creators and homebrew collectors. Make sure to post in the signup thread to request a charm(s). Brewing Charms Brewer Awarded to a Developer that has released a physical homebrew game Graphic Artist Awarded to a Graphic Artist who's contributions were used on a released physical homebrew game Chip Tune Artist Awarded to a Chip Tune Artist who's contributions were used on a released physical homebrew game Publisher Awarded to a Publisher that has released a physical homebrew game Brew Crew Awarded to a Brew Crew member that has assisted on a physical homebrew game. Member can be a beta-tester, parts supplier, or production art and support. Homebrew Collection Charms Homebrew Game Collection Awarded for homebrew collections of 10, 25, 50, or 100+. Games can be from any system, sign up at the designated thread! Music Cart Collection Awarded for music cart collections of 10 or more music carts. Music carts can be from any system, sign up at the designated thread!
  22. 600+ Backers with Tons of Time Left! Thanks so much for all the support for Trophy, the new NES game created by Gradual Games and and published by The 6502 Collective. Get In On The Action Here: Trophy is a brand-new action platformer for the original NES! Take control of the robot Trophy in this exciting new homebrew game. Save the peaceful planet of Gearus 9 from the evil machinations of Lord Q as you run, jump, and blast your way to victory. Collect power-ups along the way and defeat some of the largest bosses ever seen on the NES! The earliest imaginings of what would become Trophy lie in the mind of a twelve year old Derek Andrews, and more than twenty years later the world can finally see the results. The retro scene is filled with examples of faux 8-bit games (many of them quite excellent!), but Trophy was developed for the NES, a true 8-bit tour de force. As with all of Gradual Games’ NES projects, it was programmed from the ground up in 6502 assembly language, along with using custom tools developed by Andrews for the project. With over ten years of programming experience for the NES, Trophy blazes new territory in the homebrew scene, pushing the technological limits of the NES in ways not seen since the heyday of the licensed era! This process took over three years, and is a true labor of retro love that shines forth in all aspects of the game. Trophy is 100% finished and is being published by The 6502 Collective in both physical and digital form.
  23. Announcement: KHAN games just celebrated 10 years. To mark this milestone, announcing an (unofficial) art competition with a prize. (I had the extra copy of a game, so why not ) Art Criteria: Art must be related to KHAN games or of Kevin Hanley ( @KHAN Games) himself. Can be hand drawn, computer drawn, sculpture, etc. Basiclly anything you can post an image of. Prize: Prize is a copy NEScape! Limited Edition CIB. Excludes import taxes. Entry / Submission: Submit entries, can me multiple, to this thread and it is open to all VGS members. Submissions will close on March 29, 2020 at 11:59 PM VGS time. Judging: By @Deadeye . We reserve the right to remove or disqualify entries. KHAN Releases: 2009 - Ultimate Frogger Champion 2010 - Sneak 'n Peek 2012 - 8 Bit Xmas 2012 2013 - Study Hall 2014 - Larry LLFLL 2014 - E.T. The Extraterrestrial 2015 - The Incident 2016 - KHAN Games 4 in 1 Retro Pack 2017 - Scramble 2019 - NEScape! 2019 - 8 Bit Xmas 2019 https://www.khangames.com/my-games
  24. Homebrew Leader Board Competition 2020 - Game 2: The Rise of Amondus Play Period: Friday, February 7, 2020 - Sunday, February 23, 2020 Play on your cart or download the rom here. Released in summer 2015, The Rise of Amondus served as a prequel to Rob’s (Sly Dog Studios) equally excellent NES homebrew, The Mad Wizard. Though most gaming franchises tend to hover around the same genre, Sly Dog’s Candelabra Epic represents his personal challenge to use each entry to in the series to push the limits what can be done on the NES in every genre. The Rise of Amondus offers a unique take on the horizontal shooter, requiring the player (in the role of The Mad Wizard’s villain) to fill a given quota for capturing goblins before reaching each level’s boss. It’s up to you and your minions to conquer the Primwoods, or else the events of The Mad Wizard can’t come to pass! The Rise of Amondus was initially available in a clear cartridge on RetroUSB, but has since been discontinued. K3VBOT offered a re-release of The Mad Wizard and The Rise of Amondus in his 2019 Kickstarter for Candelabra: Estoscerro, the latest entry in the Candelabra Epic. Missed out on getting your copy of the physical cartridge? Don’t worry, Sly Dog offers the rom on his site, where you can explore and enjoy his entire catalog. Gameplay is innovative, but be careful because with innovation comes complexity. The d-pad controls Amondus’ movement, but hitting the d-pad while holding A moves the reticle used to lock onto and capture goblins. Hitting B while moving as Amondus unleashes your attacks, which vary depending on whether your to the side of or in the middle of the screen. Meanwhile hitting B after locking onto a goblin with the reticle summons Rant who will swoop down and carry the targeted goblin away. Hitting Start switches between the reticle for Rant and the option for helper Charwit. Your goal: meet your goblin capture quota so you can move on to the level’s boss. This round will begin February 7, no score posted before then will be accepted. Please limit your posts to including your scores so as not to clutter the thread. How to submit your score: 1. Scores shall be submitted by posting a picture to that month’s game thread. Screenshots of a computer screen (print screen) are not acceptable. 2. The picture must include the entire screen and have your VGS user name within the picture on a piece of paper. Username can not be added digitally to the picture. 3. Type out your score in bold on your thread post. 4. Scores must be submitted within the posted time frame. 5. Do not submit scores from previous runs. 6. Use one post for your score. You can submit as many as you like by editing your original post. You can bump the thread to announce your new score. Rules: 1. NTSC only, no PAL. This will create a level playing field and not create differences based on timing. 2. OEM, FPGA, and clone consoles are OKAY. 3. Emulators are OKAY. Play game at 100% speed. 4. No save states allowed. 5. Flashcarts (i.e. Everdrive / Power Pak) are OKAY. 6. No turbo or slow motion controllers are allowed. 7. No game genie codes. 8. Do not use glitches in the game to boost your score. 9. Single Player only 10. Do not loop play session into a "New Game Plus" (which carries your score). Reset the game instead. 11. No continues allowed, one play is limited to the 3 lives you receive at the beginning of the game.
  25. When I first discovered Nintendoage several years ago, it was when I was first discovering homebrew and trying to learn just what was out there that was worth playing. As VGS develops and we have exhaustive lists of what is available or in-development as well as individual threads to promote new works, let’s have a conversation here about your recommendations of which homebrew games are good. What should a newcomer interested in getting their feet wet look for?
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